Till the day I die

Some days I feel deader than dead about photography—don’t know why I’m doing it, don’t know what it’s good for, don’t know if I’m any good at it. I think about giving it up and rack my brains about what else I would rather be doing. Maybe I will be an interior designer. Or go work in a bookstore. Or I might want to try starting my own company publishing books.

I daydream the various options.

But after I feel deader than dead I always circle back to the feeling that photography is something that I love without reason. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m not very good at it, maybe it’s not good for anything, maybe there is no good reason behind why I should keep doing it, but I can’t help it because something in me loves it. Maybe it’s that voiceless part of me, hidden away from the world, that loves it. I really have no idea. It’s all so mysterious. But sometimes that feeling of inexplicable love seizes me and I feel like I can go on again.

I suppose this cycle will continue till the day I die.

Photographer and writer

“Fifteen years ago, I stopped being a writer and became a photographer. 
On a sweltering New York August day, I was writing about winter in Japan. Writers, it seemed, didn’t have to go to the places they wrote about. 

I became a photographer because photographers did have to be where they
 wanted to take pictures, or at least their cameras did.”
– Charles Harbutt

I want to be a photographer so I can go to places. But I also want to be a writer so I can think about the places I’ve been to. Living and thinking. Thinking and writing. Writing and living.

The sabbatical (and now a forced one because of COVID-19) is working. I really want to get back to taking photos now. I feel not simply rested but energised and motivated. And I really want to write about the photos I have taken. I think that’s becoming quite clear—and it was this part I wanted to make clear to myself during this period. What is my one thing? What is the thing that I thought was missing from my photography? This might be it. Words were missing from my photography.

Words help me to make sense of this world—they are how I think. I believe they can also help me to create photography work that is deeper and more meaningful. I wrote last year that I don’t want to continue to take only beautiful photos for commercial clients. I want to go further into the world and do work that can move the needle. Which needle? That’s part of what I must find out for myself. But I wanna grow as a photographer and a human being. My camera MUST be a tool that helps to bring about positive change in this world, and to do that I have to be uncomfortable and walk into new and unfamiliar territories.

Growth is uncomfortable. But staying the same is worse.

I am reminding myself to discard all my superficial ideas about what constitutes positive change. I’m also reminding myself to learn, learn, learn, and to be like water as I continue to grow into a photographer-writer who can create work that makes this world a slightly kinder place for other human beings.

The road is long. But I’m taking one step forward now. I think each new step will bring me more clarity and confidence, so wish me luck!