Where are you on your photo journey?

Discussion in 'Philosophy of Photography' started by summerkl, Oct 21, 2010.

  1. summerkl

    summerkl SC Veteran

    374
    Oct 11, 2010
    Vancouver, Canada
    Real Name:
    Kevin
    I recently made an offhand comment that with so many digital photos being taken, the saying of “a photo is worth a thousand words” should be changed to “a photo needs a hundred words”. It seemed to me that with so many amazing digital photos being created, it was easy to forget what made last week’s photo so memorable.

    Today, I came upon a brief but very emotional photo essay. I think it shows how powerful the combination of photos and text can be.

    It can be found at this link Phillip Toledano - Days with My Father.

    This essay was an epiphany in my photo journey of self-actualization (clearly I took one to many psych courses). I had read with interest the m43 thread “Why do you take photographs?”. Other than the nebulous goal of getting better and the satisfying but not fulfilling goal of taking family pictures, I wasn’t sure.

    So my resolution is to create some personal photo essays from my archive of photos and include text to add the emotional context that I remembered and was trying to capture. Believe me when I tell you, expressing emotion is a Herculean task. I'm a male Chinese accountant so I have gender, culture and profession working against me :eek:

    I would be very interested to hear how others are progressing on their photo journeys. As most of you are much more accomplished photographers, I would like to know what adventure lies ahead.
     
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  2. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Real Name:
    Bill
    thanks for posting - very thought provoking at many levels
     
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  3. deirdre

    deirdre SC Top Veteran

    652
    Sep 26, 2010
    I feel myself at that point in between two steps where one foot isn't fully on the ground and the other foot is just about to touch down.
     
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  4. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    Photo Journey

    Summerki, thanks for posting this. I too take as many pictures as I can to record the life of my father in law who is now 89 years old. I'm aware that as the only photographer in the family it is my pictures that we will look back on when he is gone. He is very much the head of our family and the person we all turn to in toubled times and I believe it is this that keeps him going. Purpose. I take many photos for my own pleasure too. I hope to improve my skills and to be able to take pictures that will be treasured by my own daughters when I'm long gone. They always say now "Mum's in ***********"! I don't think you can underestimate the pleasure of recording life in pictures. A single picture can trigger a whole host of memories and feelings and some really are "priceless". Good luck on your own journey. I will continue to snap with gay abandon!
     
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  5. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    Real Name:
    olli
    I rediscovered photography after a long gap when my wife started out on a new career a few years ago which involves spending 2-3 years at a time in different countries. I acquired my first digital camera to record life in Tirana, Albania. At first it was mostly about providing photographic content for my blog which was where I recorded my experiences of life in Albania (ourmanintirana.blogspot.com if anyone is interested.)

    After that we moved to Munich in Germany. By this time I was becoming more interested in photography and acquired a DSLR. Again, I started a blog but discovered that over time the words decreased and the images increased. Eventually I switched to an exclusively photoblog. At that point I shot almost everything with the DSLR and kept the LX3 I had acquired for occasional use.

    Now that I am in Tbilisi I have started a photoblog but have not felt any urge to start writing. For me the images seem to have taken over the written word. Of course, that does not mean that the same is true for other people who look at my images - perhaps more commentary would give them more meaning.

    Why do I take pictures? Partly to record the places I have been and now am. But not just to record the 'fact' of a place but also the 'feel' and the 'mood'. I find memories alone are not enough and that when an image really comes off it can capture that feel or mood in a way that more inchoate thoughts cannot. Partly to give myself the incentive to get out and explore the places I find myself. The need to feed a daily photoblog is a great incentive to get out with a camera on the days when it would be easier to sit back and do nothing. Partly to make pleasing images - some images are illustrative, others are more creative. I've gone from taking pictures to illustrate things to taking pictures to try and create something visually appealing.

    Since coming to Tbilisi I've also discovered that I've gone from using my DSLR 90% of the time to using my LX3 70% of the time. I'm not yet sure what the significance of that is. Partly it is practical - carry a DSLR in Tbilisi and the possibility of discretion is gone!

    I'm not sure if any of this addresses the question, but I'll put it out there and encourage other members to chime in. It would be especially great to here from those of you who have been doing this for 20 years and more - what keeps you going? how has your photography and your sense of your photography changed?
     
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  6. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Kevin, thank you so much for posting the link to Phillip Toledano's moving essay about his father. Since you showed me this link yesterday, I have had a chance to think about it after the fact, even subconsciously. For me seeing those honest photographs and reading his thoughts as a son looking both back at his life with both of his parents, as well as being able to focus on the reality of the present was deeply touching. Having been the child of three that was there for both of my parents through their lives, declines and deaths - and all that comes with caring, it couldn't help but bring back a host of memories. In hindsight, I wish I had done more to record their lives in the later days.

    My subliminal reasons for taking photographs have probably both changed and stayed the same over the many years, even when interrupted by the long break from really thinking about it at all, while still taking pictures. I think that writing about why one takes pictures can be simple and straightforward, but usually there are layers below the surface. First, it's a visual, seeing whatever it is that makes me see "it" and want to take the picture. Now that I am older, I do tend to think more about what kind of memory legacy I'd like to leave for our daughter...and eventually, her own family.

    Having looked at this photo essay, and making myself type this now before the stuff of the day takes over, I do feel that one of the greatest gifts I could leave for my family could be a more organized collection of photographs along with written words.

    As a child, I spent hours pouring over old photograph albums from both of my parents earlier lives - they were born in 1910 and 1917 and were very fortunate to have quite a few wonderful photographs even from their childhoods, as well as even have photos of their own parents as youngsters! I've always loved to look at family albums and have them all. But somewhere along the line, my own photos of stopped getting put into albums...and are in boxes, and then came digital...

    Thanks to your sharing this with us, Kevin, I'm reminded again of what I've been putting on the back burner. I think it's time to get down to the nitty gritty for me and get organized, make a plan and put the plan into action. I feel a new thread coming on to ask for help with this kind of thing. "Snapshots" of one's family and friends, and yes our animals if we're pet lovers, are that which represent our lives and for those of us who do want to leave a legacy, there is no time to wait. Photographs are memory holders, and if you love someone you want to be able to share your view of life with them and usually they are much of the focus of those photos.

    On a lighter note, I hope that if I do get my act together that some of my "art" shots will hold some interest, too, because as all of us know - photographs can be a window to what's inside each of us and makes us tick.

    I hope this isn't too much for the morning hours. Those of you who are further into the evenings are probably better off.:wink:

    P.S. And thank you to everyone who has taken and will take the time to respond. Each one of us brings a different perspective, yet I think we'll find we share more in common as fellow travelers with our cameras than not.
     
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  7. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member Subscribing Member

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Real Name:
    Bill Shinnick
    Thanks Kevin for this thoughtful post. My interest in photography dates back to the film era in the mid 60s and 70s. My training is in the physical sciences and I flirted briefly with the darkroom as part of my studies. My first camera was a Canonet 19 which I still have and it takes a nice photo or in my case slides. As family came along photography became less of a hobby and more a function of recording significant events in my own family and the wider family. In the 80s and 90s I took less and less photos but as the new century dawned I discovered digital cameras and my interest in photography was re-awakened. At this time I also took early retirement.

    I would have to say I'm much more a technician than an artist and enjoy the digital darkroom very much. I have (mild to moderate) obsessive compulsive disorder and this manifests itself in the urge to collect. I own about 80 35mm film cameras - most of them cheap and nasty but a few nice slrs mixed in. I have four digital cameras and a collection of lenses to suit. I am currently adding 35mm lenses and adapters and enjoying the acquisition phase and actually taking a few interesting photos. I am also a chronic depressive and can find actually getting organised to take photos difficult. I discovered photography forums (fora for the pernicketty) about 6 years ago and it has become something of a lifeline for me. I enjoy learning and sharing knowledge which is probably why I became a teacher.

    Sorry if this fairly personal sharing is missing the topic but it seemed appropriate to share how photography in all its dimensions has been therapeutic for me. Now if I could just stop buying gear and software and get out and take a few more photos that would be nice.
     
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  8. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    When I started out at an early age of 13, I was totally in awe of photos of my family.
    There was a recorded history of people I would never experience.
    Later, after a spell I started making my own family snaps to keep the album going.
    I photographed my time in the Army. Did the Nam thing with a Leica M4 and a Nikon F.
    The street grew from that experience and went full bloom with the Peace Movement in the early 70's. It became a period of Self Discovery. That's where I was and that's where I still am.
    I was fortunate to be able to spend time with some of the grand masters.
    The lessons learned are the lessons passed on.
    I love life! I love making images. I'm a shooter because I have to be.
    I am still on the path of self discovery.
    It's still a very interesting journey....
    Shooter
     
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  9. summerkl

    summerkl SC Veteran

    374
    Oct 11, 2010
    Vancouver, Canada
    Real Name:
    Kevin
    Thanks Christilou, you have expressed with so much more eloquence what I feel about photography. My family call me the "paparazzi" - sometimes affectionately and sometimes not :)

     
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  10. summerkl

    summerkl SC Veteran

    374
    Oct 11, 2010
    Vancouver, Canada
    Real Name:
    Kevin
    No apologies necessary Bill. I actually think you hit the nail on the head about the therapeutic benefit of photography.

     
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  11. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Real Name:
    Jason
    For me photography is an "artistic" outlet away from the analytically centric job I have. Lord knows I can't draw, sing, or play any instruments. I've always had a knack for color, so photography seemed like a perfect fit.

    In regards to where I'm at with photography? Well, it seems I'm somehwere on a path with lots of forks, bends, and breaks. I'm just here for the ride, so I really don't know.
     
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  12. Karen Cole

    Karen Cole SC Regular

    92
    Sep 2, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I am sick, the kind of sick you don't get better from. By happenstance, I got a granddaughter to raise. Who has time for not taking every second of life and squeezing every precious moment from it?

    Photographs are the recordings of those moments...each precious and once-in-a-lifetime. She's 4. I've got 4 years behind me and hopefully a few more ahead.

    I am not a photographer, but I am a recorder of time, of change, of slices of life.

    How do you teach a child that life matters? From the mundane to the life-changing events and everything in-between? Who we are as individuals matters, how we act and how we present ourselves to the world matters, how we go about our daily life matters, how we act in the moment matters..all piled up it is our legacy not just of our life but of that moment in time.

    Hannah, she believes in Mother Nature and understands the importance of preserving and nurturing everything that Mother Nature provides. Mother Nature/god..cause and effect. We are born, we live and we die as everything on earth does...we all change in small but steady steps, recorded in photograph's. We go the the Sierra's numerous times throughout the year, camping in the spring and summer months, in autumn and winter we rent a cabin.

    Go in the spring and the snow is just melting away as the new buds begin their journey to becoming leaves or flowers, back in Fall and Winter and we see the leaves change and fall..snow comes and blankets all in white. She see's and understands change..it's an ongoing discussion recorded in pictures. A new born deer, a baby Belding Squirrel, two dead chipmunks in a water tub left out unsuspecting of what the end result would or could be...cause and effect. Recorded and discussed. Earthquakes and disasters, human suffering, poverty, seen and discussed..with a heart full of tears.

    Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversaries, Holidays all recalled and lived with photograph's. The years pass and the discussion continues. Integrity, ability, talent, self and others..animals and things all need attention..to be loved to be taken care of. Walk into the woods Mother Nature astounds you with her beauty..leave nothing behind..others will follow let then see it as you saw it pristine and unspoiled. Recorded with pictures. A walk in a wild life refuge, littered with debris..once beautiful now soiled by humans who don't know better...we come back with garbage bags and begin the clean-up..my 4 year old fully engrossed in the process and her heartfelt sorrow for the indifference of man to nature. Recorded in pictures.

    She grows up strong and healthy day by day. Her heart is big and she cares and cares a great deal already at 4. She knows about volcanoes, and hurricanes and tidal waves and she knows that sometimes bad things happen but she knows what it feels like to be loved for just who you are and she feels safe and secure. On those days when I am slow to begin or don't get up at all..she comes in frequently to check on me..a hug, a kiss sometimes she curls up beside me and we just breath together..quietly listening to the sound of breathing! The camera is near..all recorded in pictures.

    It's not always easy and not always fair, but by knowing who you are and keeping true to yourself and what is in your heart you rise above it and go on..the foundation is strong...the conversation continues as does life and as do the pictures. It is my legacy to her, but it is also her life as shared with me. The two of us on this journey till our paths divide

    When you see my pictures posted here..Hannah was with me most likely when it was snapped..she experienced it physically, tangibly and emotionally...their is no separation of one from the other, at least not often. The camera is always close..she always asks, "Grandma what is our picture of today?"
     
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  13. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Karen, this is the first time I have become aware of your illness, but certainly not the first time I've seen and read of your great love for your darling Hannah, the light of your life. Thank you so much for taking the time out to write about your own journey in such a personal way. The legacy you are living sounds to me like the greatest gift, and I have no doubt that your Hannah will continue in the steps you've taken together in the Sierras and throughout life. I wonder if Hannah has started to take any photographs yet - it certainly can't be long before she does. Thank you, Karen. I'll be watching here and on Flickr for more recordings of your pictures of the day, with Hannah.
     
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  14. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Karen,
    I thought you said you weren't a photographer...
    Maybe I read the post wrong....
    Much love and respect...
    A friend.....
     
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  15. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    Hello Karen, I read your story with a lump in my throat because I too have had a serious illness, cancer. I'm 11 years down the line and I never thought that I would get past the first two. I had three daughters to bring up then, the youngest only 7 years old. I've been trying to bring them up to be strong and independent young women. My photos will be something that is left of the real "me", not just a mother and wife, as well as recording our family life. Hannah has learned how to be a caring human being already and that's thanks to you. All children love to look at photos and yours will be treasured by Hannah and probably her own children too one day. The circle of life will continue.
     
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  16. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Isn't that the truth. I'm sure fathers feel the same, but as a mother I had to respond.

    Thank you, Christina and I am so glad you are 11 years down the line and that we're all lucky enough to be here for our moments together.
     
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  17. Karen Cole

    Karen Cole SC Regular

    92
    Sep 2, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Christilou
    I know..I know I know..Cancer can be a chronic illness..not just something that is treated and goes away or kills us if it doesn't. There are people like us who live with it day in and day out for years..doing nothing but living. You, like me are just that much more aware of the passage of time and just how precious moments are. Having a child or children in your life makes the passage of time all that more tangible. The pictures, the recorded memories are indeed a powerful legacy not only of who you are or were as a person, but of and to your children..a shared timeline of all the moments shared one by the other and together.

    Much love
    Karen
     
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  18. Karen Cole

    Karen Cole SC Regular

    92
    Sep 2, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    BBW

    Thank you!
    Hannah is taking pictures too! She has one of those indestructible children's cameras..that is until Christmas when she will receive a new "normal" point and shoot with an optical zoom. She takes pretty good pictures..I let her use my camera and she does a decent job of framing and not chopping off people's heads. Time will tell..the interest is certainly there.
     
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  19. deirdre

    deirdre SC Top Veteran

    652
    Sep 26, 2010
    Karen, sorry you're ill.

    My first husband died suddenly in 1996; we were married earlier that year. That really gave me perspective on how short life can be.

    I have so few photos of him, and because my own photos were destroyed in a flood the spring after he died, I mostly have other people's photos of him, like this one taken by my father:

    At Durty Nelly's, June 1996 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    So it's a constant reminder to do better to document the life around me. Even so, I still find that I forget to take pictures of the people because my "thing" is architectural detail.
     
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  20. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Deirdre, just reading your post puts another level of life into perspective. Photos as memory keepers is getting embedded in my brain, thanks to this thread.

    By the way, not to disrupt the flow of other members' "where are you on journey" entries, I've started a kind of offshoot thread over in the Image Processing forum here that I hope may help some of us who need it with respect to documenting the life around us.