Perhaps it is because the year now draws to a close and the skies grow more ashen.
Perhaps it is because I’m in a more self-reflective state these days given the declining health of loved ones.
Or perhaps it is simply because I have been asked this more than once and have never felt as though I offered a complete or compelling enough response.
So… here are the reasons I photograph. There are ten of them altogether.
I begin by noting with vigor one of the reasons I do not photograph and that is to make money, to put food on the table, to advance a career. My means of sustaining myself and my family lies elsewhere and so photography is diversion, relief only. I have had moments when the thought did cross my mind… but I’ve suppressed the instinct, declined the opportunity to let it fester. Why? Because I have always feared the loss of respite… and so I’ve protected it.
Why then do I photograph?
1. It helps me see.
Family, job, volunteer activities, plus an active Walter Mitty imagination. That’s me. I can get up into my own head and travel through space and time without actually seeing anything. My visual acuity is sufficient enough to allow me to operate a car, traverse through busy city streets, accomplish all of the necessary activities of daily living, but rarely do I notice, rarely do I truly see.
When I am carrying a camera, I look through the viewfinder or onto the back LCD screen and observe, carefully so. I notice contrasts, vivid colors, the textures within shadows, the places where light illuminates or washes over detail. I notice. Photography does that to me, even if I never press down on the shutter button.
2. It affixes me to a moment.
My mind wanders to points on the distant shore. I don’t profess to be particularly adept at it, but I constantly consider chess moves on the board in front of me, thinking through implication and consequence, action or its opposite. When I lift a camera to my eye, not only do I see but my mind ceases all forms of time travel. I plant myself in a particular moment and after I observe, I exhale and then I just simply am.