I recently shared an image on fb from a weekend out in my beloved Flint Hills. The comment I made along with the image touches on the topic of this post and is the reason I am spending more time exploring this.
It was like many other ventures I spend in such wonderful places. My time was limited to an afternoon, a night of camping and the morning after before I had to head back the working side of life. The afternoon and evening of my first day was spent exploring back roads of which I wasn’t very familiar with during which time I envisioned the perfect shot just around the next corner. It’s a trap I fall into often, one of always thinking the grass will be greener on the other side of the fence so to speak.
Weather was perfect, skies were filled with amazing clouds and lights of sunbeams danced through the heavens for well over an hour. During the hour before sunset I would constantly say wow, that would make a great shot, but the road kept pushing me forward with anticipation of better views just around the corner. When time starts to get limited due to the approaching sunset my anticipation level builds and decisions become more difficult to make. It’s an actual rush of adrenaline that I have grown to crave. Must be my need to always want more, better, bigger or just that perfect shot. I mentioned that I don’t always attempt to photograph the best scenes I come across and this is true, there is no need for a photograph if I have been so fortunate to experience it in person. Memories and experiences have no comparison to photographs and I will continue to find more contentment in experiences than photographs but, I should know better and this is why.
Not many photos where taken during this sweet time of the late day and early evening hours and I ask myself why? Why am I so reluctant to stop and create a photograph? The answer seems to be that photography doesn’t matter. That’s a loaded statement I know because as a photographer my photographs do matter, they must matter or why else would one do this? Photography matters to this extent; Just taking pictures or put more creatively, creating images must come from a sense of place. A place that resides within a person that goes beyond the simple act of wanting to take a picture. A place that the outward physical body has little control of. This is not a reaction to a particular scene or place but a fulfillment of what is needed to complete a somewhat physiological or psychological need. I know, sounds rather deep, but that is exactly what matters, it has to be deep or else it is simply a shallow observation of something resulting in a shallow mostly meaningless image.
It has been asked that if you create an image that fulfills these needs does anyone else know or even care. That is a question that should never be asked of the one creating the work and especially to yourself. That question doesn’t matter and has no bearing on the process. What matters is the simple act of creating regardless of outside influences. One must never ask the question why, but rather why not.
For the most part I never have regrets for not taking a picture if the experience alone has meant something, the soul purpose is to experience life and the bounties there in. Many opportunities were passed by on my evening journeys because I asked to many times, why when a more pertinent question may have been why not. This fact alone seems to emphasize the point that photography does matter and the one it needs to matter to is the one taking the picture.