Awhile back I had a discussion with my wife, who would label herself “not a photographer”. She mentioned that she didn’t understand why I was bringing a camera with me when we left the house to go grab dinner. We weren’t going somewhere with a great view or seeing anything that would be interesting.
After that conversation and a few days to think about it, I’ve come to these thoughts.
It seems most people think taking photos is something you do primarily to remember special events. When I look back through photo albums of my childhood, the vast majority of the photos are snapshots from some special event like a holiday or get-together. After all, most people making a living from photography are making photos of events and some of my favorite work has come from taking photos of events, family, sports - that sort of thing.
What makes a photograph more than just a snapshot? I would argue, it's the attempt to capture the feeling of being there. I view the picture making process as more than just an exact visual represention or scan of what’s there. What drives me is the quest to make an image without distraction – to find the part that somehow distills the mood, temperature and ambiance and can communicate this feel to someone else… or myself at a later time.
I’m trying to remember more than just an event, knowing that the photo is able to capture more than just what we can see. I don’t know how this works exactly, but there are times when an image seems to be carrying more experiential information than you’d think a photo should. Perhaps it’s the clever use of tools like depth of field, under or over-exposure, a dragged shutter or frozen motion. We don’t really see the world this way, but these effects are the tools by which you turn a simple photo into a story.
There's also great power in creating images from our day-to-day experience. I find that these kinds of photos become a token of sorts that brings me back to that place vividly in ways that can sometimes be surprising for a non-event.
I bring my camera along because I’m hoping to find both a moment worth sharing and a powerful way to remember.