noun. A person who makes a photograph.
For those who know me as a friend and as a photographer, know I constantly struggle with the same question: “Who am I?” This question is particular to what kind of photographer am I, more, What does my work say about me?
Currently, my work says I have fine skills as an image editor. I know my way around Photoshop! (Not as well as some, but I can definitely create a stunning image.) My work says I have a good understanding of light and composition. My images are clean and have a clear focus.
What does it say about who I am? Where I come from? What message do I have? Do I even have a message? And if I did, would anyone even want to read about it with the numerous amounts of stories out there? Relationships between mother and daughter, drag queens and their transformations, ancient Chinese ceremonies, earthquake survivors amidst the rubble or even worse, the pain of violence and governmental turmoil.
The search for who I am as a photographer has been clouded by the lengthy lists of what society believes a photographer needs to do to “make it.”
If you want to be a successful photographer, you must do A, B and C.
Then I ask, “Well, what do you mean by ‘successful?'” Make $40K+ a year? Get published online by a distinguished group? Win a Magnum Photography award? No? Maybe an honorable mention in a local city competition? Receive 1K+ likes on your Instagram posts? Win a grant to create a series? All these walls! All of these boundaries you have to navigate around and over and across.
None of it is useful unless you know who you are as a photographer. And even further, as a person. This is where it gets personal.
I don’t think I know who I am. I know what I like, what I’m interested in. I know what I know, and know what I don’t know. And lately, it has been so important to find ME. There is a passion for…something. Something. I just, can’t seem to shine a light on it.
When I get close, my flashlight dims and the battery dies.
This is why I have decided to pursue ME, once again. To find ME. What makes me tick? The rest of my time here in Japan will be in the pursuit of subjects that connect with me deeper than a portrait of a handsome Marine or a beautiful, young high school graduate. These projects to come, my remaining monthly self portraits, “My Mother’s Beautiful Walls,” “Toys That Lived” will open a door to the things that move me. The moments in my life that brought happiness and security and bring me relief and tears of joy.
Please follow along. Why?