Why I am a Photographer
First of all, happy New Year’s! I hope you all had an amazing 2012 and that 2013 is going to be even better. Apologies for the hiatus in the last couple of months, it’s not that I ran out of materials (I still have hundreds of pictures from the last NYFW), but I slowly lost the drive to post on a daily basis and to go out every weekend to find new things to photograph. The drive I’m hoping I’ll find again soon.
In the meantime, I’ve been reading a lot (I read a grand total of 99 books in 2012, mostly thanks to my new kindle that allowed me to read pretty much all the time, regardless of where I am or what time it is), and I think writing down the reasons that led me to the decision to pursue photography as a career instead of a hobby would help me in discovering my drive (and hopefully help someone else rediscover their drive, somewhere out there). So here goes.
On a personal level, as someone who’s moved from continents to continents and cities to cities on an almost annual basis since I was 8, photography is my tool for remembering things that were, seeing things that are, and dreaming about things that will be.
I traveled a lot when I was young (4-6 years old), and I’ve allegedly been in every single providence in China, but there are only two details I remember from all of those years without the aid of a photograph. The first is of the moments before and after I dropped my grandfather’s camera case into the Yellow River, and watching it float in the turbulent waves for what felt like an eternity before dropping around a bend and out of sight. I’m pretty sure I would’ve jumped after it, too, if my grandfather wasn’t there to hold me back. The second detail is of a cockroach crawling across the seat and into my grandfather’s headrest on a train (there are probably at least 10 cockroaches for every person in China, so they were everywhere), and my grandfather nonchalantly squashing it with his head.
Back in China, there are albums after albums of photos of me hiking the Great Wall, peering over the rails in the Hanging Temple, and gaping at the gorgeous mountains in Henan providence from a cruise boat. But the photos provide the only memories I have of those places. Old photos are literally shards of the happiest moments of our lives, fragments that are so easily forgotten and overshadowed by the darker periods.
It’s truly fascinating to learn how our brain is fundamentally wired regarding memories, and I would love to delve into more details, but I would just get laughed at by the psych/pre-med neurologists, so I won’t even try. But basically, photography that is true to itself is the remembrance of things past – in particular, of the happier, if not the happiest moments of our lives. Photojournalism in particular is the most truthful genre of photography, which is why I much prefer it to posed portraits and faked smiles.
On an impersonal level, other people’s photographs help us in seeing and enjoying the world through their eyes. Ansel Adams is perhaps the best known example of such a photographer, and Alexandre Deschaumes is probably my favorite landscape photographer today. Those photos help us dream about faraway lands and undiscovered territories (as long as we take care to not lose ourselves in them).
Anyway, I’ll try to get back onto the photo-posting horse (and perhaps introduce you to some new music artists that you may not have heard of, I hope you like folk/alternative rock).
Stay posted, let’s make 2013 the most memorable year yet.