Anyone who has followed my posts about photography over the past year or so will probably be aware that much of what I write is an attempt to contextualize and purpose my own efforts in the field.
For me, it’s not enough to be technically competent or to produce work that others like (largely because it resembles the work of other people who are also liked). It’s desperately hard to be original with photography – there are simply far too many people doing it and the art is so well established. So what to do?
Unexpectedly, an answer came out of my own distant past. I recently came across a small collection of negatives from my earliest days with a camera, thirty five years ago to be precise. The pictures you see here are scans of those negatives, as is the one accompanying my earlier article.
Now these pictures, taken by myself with no photographic knowledge or training with a long forgotten camera and lens (but identifiably a SLR, 50mm most likely) mark a significant and important part of my life.
Importantly, at the time I was consciously trying to evoke a mood and feel that mirrored my own fragile emotional state. I succeeded judging from my own reaction to seeing these seemingly lost forever images restored to life.
More importantly, while regarding these photographs with a strongly mixed set of emotions, a trickle of wisdom began to surface. These pictures represent exactly what I really want from my art. I want emotion. I don’t want technique or manifestations of technological wizardry. I don’t want repetition or cliché. (I don’t necessarily want to avoid those qualities out of hand – as long as they are subservient to true emotion and not some ersatz variation. But little of what I see in popular photography transcends emotional shallowness.)
Therein lies my purpose. Why it took a review of such ancient works of mine to clarify this beats me, but there it is. Perhaps I needed to be reminded that learning can cloak as much as it reveals. Regardless, I feel something of a weight has been lifted from me. I can move ahead from here with greater strength and assurance. That is worth a lot.