Who Do We Shoot For?

This goes out to the Photographers out there.

 What do you want to do with your photography? 

 No seriously.  Stop.  Ask that question.  What do you want your work to do?  Do you want it to break the cycle of monotony in your day job and help lift you up to new creative heights, challenging all that’s come before you and leaving a lasting impression on future generations of photographers?  Or do you want to take pretty pictures?  If you consider these two extremes of a very long and wide scale of possibilities, there’s a lot of grey area. 

This was a question I had posed many times over the last few years.  I love taking pictures.  That's a no brainer.  That part comes easy for me; I love to do it so I simply go and do it.  But the real crux of the matter is what my intent is, rather than my motivation.   I love referring back to that great question: If you could continue to make photographs knowing that no one else besides yourself would ever see them, would you?

I would.  That's why I am shifting from taking pictures of things that other people will "like" on social media.  It's tiring because it's not true to who I am.  I will continue to take photographs for my own enjoyment.  

You might be curious now, wondering where I suddenly got this notion from.  The truth is that I am drawing inspiration from Annie Leibovitz.   In particular, her book "A Photographer's Life, 1995-2005", which I found and borrowed at the Halifax Central Library a half-hour before I picked up Jess to go home and pack for a weekend with family in New Brunswick.    The book resounded with me in a way that I hadn't expected.  I picked it up wondering what impeccable portraits of huge celebrities might be included, and found myself drawn to the candid family moments she had shot for herself.  She published the photos, but I got the distinct impression from the way they were presented and the moments she captured that they were photos taken for Annie.  

 

Thats what I did this weekend.  I took some photos for me.  I took images of my mom, my wife, the old homestead, everything that I could think of that I really wanted to remember from the brief trip home.    When my mom poured out the hot water from the steaming pot of mussels, I took the shot, the resounding ka-chunk signature sound from the hasselblad penetrating the conversation.  Mom, a bit surprised said with a sarcastic tone "Ugh, I wonder what that looked like."  To which I responded "I think it looked like my Mom." 

It's also why I took the photo of the chair in the opening frame.  The light was brilliant but there was a presence to the room, the comfort, the memories of experiences in a previous visit.  That corner of that room holds a strange significance to me.  

Overall, in our short trip to New Brunswick we visited family in Saint John, Grand Bay and Welsford.  I tried to snag some photos of something meaningful or that caught my interest from each place, so that I'd have something to bring back with me.   Having only a film camera was liberating; I took my time with the compositions and made sure each shot counted.  

I think there's something to be said for shooting only for you.  Creating something so that you will have your own record of what you experienced.  For me, it happened to be the people, the food, architecture, and playing with a big muddy puppy.  This blog post is for me.