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Photograph White Cross Hotel by Richard Keeling on 500px

White Cross Hotel by Richard Keeling on 500px

I’m currently in the process of uploading my digital photography archive to the Amazon Cloud.

It’s taking an interminably long time but there are a lot of photographs. Tens of thousands collected over the past decade.

Many of them are pretty, some are quite good, others – many others – are redundant. A mark of the remarkable facility of digital picture taking to effortlessly accumulate images. Effortlessly and often thoughtlessly.

Oh well. It’s done now, and they are a visual history of my life over the past few years.

But what meaning will I ascribe to any of them? Especially as individual photographs. I fell into the habit of taking multiple shots when confronted with a particularly attractive scene or subject. Relentlessly hoping to land that perfect catch.

Some are better than others. But most are simply alternates. No meaning is attached to one vs. another, and ironically the proliferation of these lookalikes has the effect of diluting the power of the original compositions.

This was brought home to me by the discovery on my last trip to England of a small batch of negatives dating back to 1980. Taken with a camera that I have no recollection of whatsoever. Taken with none of the accumulated knowledge of photography that I’ve collected over the intervening 35 years.

Yet powerful and meaningful. So much so that much of my photographic effort over the past two years has been an attempt to recapture something of that spirit, that artlessness and that economy. I don’t regret all that I have learned – what I do regret is allowing that knowledge to carry me into a blind alley. I fell prey to fashion and to technology. Spent a lot of money and lot of time trying to emulate the appearance of millions of other pictures that others considered good.

And all the while I left my soul behind.

No more.