Artists tend to fall into one of two large groups: those who think out what they want to say and those who follow their instincts, allowing themselves to question and understand those instincts over time.
I’m one of the latter group:
My gut has always told me not to let my mind upset a beautiful relationship between myself and the world. My photographs have always been an emotional response to reality and the world has been generous to my gut probing. So I’ve spent decades recognizing imagery and capturing it. I’ve left it for later to find out why.
Later is now:
For the last decade I’ve found myself whispering the title of the photos I take just before I take them. I think I’ve been naming their significance, thinking about what they mean and why I’m taking them, but in the most intuitive way. I’ve made an agreement with my mind: “I’ll let you in if you leave my process alone.”
My mind whispered “Autumn Man” when I took the photo as the shadow of a man revealed the fall colours behind and the sinews of the body within.
“Autumn Man” and “Hours” (left) have a lot in common – they both connect with my fears of death, an early death in particular. My father died when I was seven, so it’s no wonder that my visions (as I call them) speak of the precious time we have, our connection to nature and our final fate.
Patterns and obsessions:
Now that I’ve let my mind in, I see clear patterns and obsessions. My obsession with missing women, for example, derives from the mother I lost when I was 12. I used to fantasize that she “was allowed” to see my on my birthdays, to, “ya know”, keep track of how I’d done.
Not that it’s all been a futile attempt to recapture a crushed childhood. Far from that. There’s been a growth into adulthood to take into account. I see hope in light, youth and learning – the photo “The Reader” is one eternal moment of my daughter and her book.
“Light of Learning”, my mind whispered.
How we live:
And there are other, more adult obsessions: the story of how we live, with its scattered fragments of existence. (“Coming and Going”). That’s a story I must have been born to tell. I see it everywhere.
And there’s the story of “Product Man”, a culture obsessed with defining itself by its possessions.
And stories of everyday heroism. (“February Blues”) And stories of frailty (“Time”) and the story of the glory that shoots through everything (“Dream Tree” and “Kew”).
The battle within:
I tell stories of love and loss, focusing on the human in us all – a reflection of my past, present and future.
I thank my mind for helping me see this in perspective. But I hold tight to the right to choose what I shoot, even when my mind says “that’s absurd. You know what not to shoot because I’ve educated you. I’ve shown you what’s already been shot”. And my gut replies “No, I’ve felt what’s been shot and I feel what must be felt. You stick to your job, I’ve got mine”.
(Click on pictures to see larger images.)