I’m retired now. No longer do I get up in the morning and come home in the evening to go to and come from work.
It’s far too early to say whether retirement will suit me well or not so well, but one aspect that is changed forever is the cycle ride home through Forest Park. These photographs are from my final days and represent scenes I’ve followed through the seasons over many years.
It’s not like I’ll never see these views again – I’m sure I’ll be back in Forest Park over and over again. What’s changed is the association. Before, this journey represented the escape after the restrictions of the day, and even though the escape was short lived before the cycle repeated itself, it still offered a sense of relief.
As such, these pictures represent the essence of meaningful photography. They may be meaningful only to me, but that’s enough.
I constantly find myself torn between expectations of what a ‘good’ photograph should be and the reality of what really matters. Given that almost everything we photograph represents something that has already been portrayed, either with earlier photographs, or older still paintings, it becomes practically impossible to create something wholly original. So why bother? On other words, why try to scrabble out an image that fits some preconception of what a photograph should be? Why not simply use the camera as a record of time, place and the accompanying emotion?
That’s what I’ve done here. I will be unable to regard any of these six photographs without summoning the emotions associated with a huge change in life circumstances, one of the most significant waypoints in one’s journey from birth to death.
So that’s how they lie. Fresh for now, but destined to be encrusted with time’s barnacles and the opaque distortion that follows. Emotion will overlay emotion, memory will metamorphose into nostalgia. This is how it always is; it’s impossible to truly recapture the feelings of any time passed. However, as markers of a particular moment, they will anchor more of the past that might otherwise be saved. As such, they are more worthwhile than many a more celebrated set of images.