For a good while, I've felt like I reached a point in my photography where I was treading water. I knew that photography was a part of me, but what I didn't know was exactly how far that extended within me. Without sounding entirely too esoteric, I knew that there was more. I knew that the reason I found photography to share my story, my perspective, and my ideas with the world wouldn't merely end at instagramatic filters or one-click solutions to my photographs. To paraphrase a friend a fellow photographer, I knew that I didn't want to make snapshots but to make stories.
I didn't know it when I signed up for it, but a weekend in June changed my photographic life. The content covered in those three days would, in some way, simulatenously blow my mind and change my mind about how I saw photography. Maybe change my mind is the wrong statement... open my eyes may be more accurate.
The need to tell my story has been a constant throughout my life. Now, while living overseas and detached from my family and relatives, the need to convey what's important, what's beautiful, and what's meaningful is brought into a brighter light than before. Photography is my way of remembering. More than that, it's my way of describing and sharing. It's my way of showing others what something means to me.
Beyond that, photography has also helped me through some tough times in my life in recent years. There's a great comfort when I'm out with my camera, and there's almost this euphoric feeling I get when I'm standing in front of something awesome and photographing what it means to me.
The Importance of Music
I recently went to a music festival where one of my favourite artists from Australia was playing on stage. She's a wonderful musician named Missy Higgins with a somewhat raspy, bluesy tone to her voice. As I was watching her sing and play her music from the audience, it occurred to me that in all art, no matter the form - be it music, drawing, photography, sculpture, or otherwise - what I find interesting isn't so much the superficiality of it all but more how it makes me think. What is the singer trying to say? Rephrased in a more general manner, What is the artist saying to their audience? What is the artist speaking about?
Listening to her sing, I tried to imagine what it was that she was really singing about. What was deeper, beyond the lyrics and into the reason why she wrote the song. One of her new singles, "Set Me On Fire", she later revealed was inspirational to her to begin writing music again after some time away for personal reasons.
Melody, you're the only one who saves me
Out of the cold you take me (Set me on fire)
Save me (Set me on fire)
Melody, all I want is to remember
What came before this winter? (Set me on fire)
Set me on fire
It's not simply songwriting that this song applies to. Melody in this case, is simply the medium for the artist's expression. Much like music and other forms of art, photography comes with its own ups and downs and as fellow artists, we all hit these little funks. These hurdles along the way that divert us from getting to what it is we truly want to say. Why we create. How we create.
I think this is a big reason why music resonates so much with me -- it and photography are two different genres of art each trying to tell a story in very different ways. Each artist has their own tools to work with but the desire to affect the audience, listener or viewer, remains constant. Different chords, different pitches, different instruments, even the way the words are sung, all determine how we as listeners feel about the art. There's a reason why some songs are timeless, and it's not just because they were played with a guitar or sung by someone with perfect pitch.
When I heard Missy Higgins singing on stage her music moved me and it's not just because words are strung together with a rhythm and a beat. Music is as much of an art form as photography is, with each musician having their own means to tell their story and for lack of a better word, voice. I could feel the power of her words and the emotion in her voice.
When I went to the Artist Round Table in June of this year, I was hit with a sense that I'm somewhat aimlessly wandering with my photography. It's great because that means it's growing organically, at its own pace without being forced for anything. The down side is that I'm not forced to push myself. That's what this whole next step is about. I want to put together a body of work, hopefully many as my life goes on, that stands on its own. To date, my photography has been all disperate pieces of my perspective. They all can stand on their own and draw people's attention, but what if instead of one image sharing a story, there were several?
The images on this post are candidates for inclusion on my first photo series, which I'm calling "Urban Transience". I think there's a notion that a lot of us share in that we don't always know where we are headed or why. Sometimes it's a simple thing like walking around aimlessly. Other times, as is the case with me, is that I've been travelling away from home for many years and I've no real idea where I'll end up. This series is going to explore this simple premise and I can't begin to describe how excited I am by it.
I want my photography to have the kind of impact that moves people. I want my art to make people think and feel how I felt hearing Missy Higgins sing live on stage. I want to make art that challenges people. The stories I want to tell have meaning to me, and I want them to be heard through photography, just as though I was there recalling them accentuated with my own body language and intonations.
Here we go.