I am pleased when one of my photographs strikes a nerve in others. I have conditioned myself not to be displeased when they don’t. Affirmation is always good but for some reason I am always leery of praise, maybe it is because I never really have sought praise and I am just not sure how to handle it. I have never had what I considered an acceptable reply when someone comments favorably on a photograph or on my photography . I always feel like if I say more than a simple thank you that I come across as a totally self absorbed SOB—there of course is a reason for that, I am. I do desire acknowledgement—why else would I post photographs to the Internet—but I am more comfortable when acknowledgement stops short of praise. Truthfully I am terribly egotistical about my photography, not all of it but a lot of it. I would just as soon that no one actually knew that therefore I prefer not advertise it every time someone comments favorably on my work and believe me the last thing I need is enablement and ego aggrandizement.
Am I that great of a photographer? Absolutely not. Sometimes I am more than adequate because I do, like a blind pig, occasionally find an acorn. Occasionally I do produce a photograph or a series of photographs that even I believe are worthy of acknowledgement, my acorn.
I have always promoted the idea of photographing what is inside of the photographer rather and what is in front of the lens—just a part of being self absorbed. Do I disparage sunsets, kids and flowers (or any of the plethora of the pictorially permissible subjects)? No. But I am saddened by them especially when they are taken by photographers that I know have so much more to offer. I know the photographers that took these photographs are happy, contented with their effort and so unaware of how little they are giving to the world of photography or to themselves. My contention is, has always been and always will be that the only photographs of value—and maybe that value is limited to simply one person, the photographer—are the ones that come only from inside the photographer. Will that contention change the world? No. It like any addiction can only be corrected/cured/changed by the addicted. Needless to say I still sit out to enlighten the addicted as hundreds have done before me—all to the same underwhelming degree of success. Much more intelligent, better versed, more articulate writers have laid out the case so much better than my meager abilities allow.
Do I photograph these same pictorially permissible subjects? Yes. But I seldom photograph them well because I always have the nagging suspicion that without the depth of emotional attachment I am not doing the best that I can do as a photographer, that somehow I am cheating.
I also do a lot of photographs that float somewhere between. These are photographs of objects that do not necessarily have a commonly associated emotional reference but buried somewhere in that object simply by the fact that I chose to photograph it is something of me. Granted it is often a stretch to find it. It is like using a mixed light shot of a hospital cafeteria to touch on my reclusiveness and display the warmth of secure places with the coolness of the exterior world, something that has been a reoccurring theme in my photography for the past few years. Do I expect others to see that? No. Maybe that emotion, that meaning is there only for me—but it is there. Why do I see totems in light poles, an autobiography in a bunch of dusty containers in an ill kept garage or a crucifix in an oil slick on a church parking lot? I don’t know. I just know sometimes that in these cases what is in front of the camera is talking about what is behind the camera and I am very happy when I am aware that is happening—another indication of my self absorption.
My photography occasionally is done for the nefarious reason of attracting the attention of others, but not all that often. It really is for me. As I have said in the past, I feel that I stumble onto what I photograph. It is seldom planned, or at least the best of my photography is seldom planned. I like it when my photography, when my life, floats—moved by forces outside of myself like a leaf or a feather in the wind. That sounds really silly, really lacking in direction or ambition, but it’s true. Sometimes the wind is a gentle breeze and sometimes it has the force of a hurricane. Much to the chagrin of friends and family much of my life has been that way. I am a firm believer that you live the life you were supposed to live so why fight it, why try to be what you are not nor really want to be? To me it just seems so simple, just be.
This triad of self confession is all leading up to photographs that I have taken recently of my wife, Janet. Although I have always photographed both the happier and the sadder sides of Janet’s life. For a very long time I only posted photographs of the happier side. It would be okay with me if that were the only side but it isn’t. Recently her life has become considerably more difficult and many more of my photographs of her have become darker. On a recent trip to ER the consensus was that Janet was not likely to be going home with me. That is a wind of hurricane proportions, emotionally I was devastated. Yes, I have always known the possibilities but I always assumed the wind would blow from my favored direction. I simply was not ready to turn loose and thankfully I did not have to. During her four day stay in the hospital I did a large number of photographs and some of them I think are extremely good. I do believe that all the emotion that had not been drained was manifested in the photographs. Remember, I see these objects as photographs, new entities, not as the objects photographed.
Even though that particular hospital has a no-photography policy there was no way they would be able to keep me from taking photographs of Janet. I did a number in ER and then later when she was transferred to a room.
This particular photograph through its composition, depth of field, color, darkness touches me very deeply. There is enough detail to set the location as a hospital, the resignation of her position, but what moves this photograph beyond simply documentation of the situation is the fading away of the focus until the instruments behind her are only suggestion. It is a photograph of what I was anticipating at the time—losing her,