So many aspects of photography inspire me. For one, I'm inspired by photographs that allow their understanding to unfurl over time. I’m curious how an image will exist in the future, how my future self or an audience will gain insights about the personal growth that's occurred from when an image was first experienced. Photographs are unchanging, the thing that changes is our perspective of them over time.
I brought a 35mm automatic film camera my first summer at a canoe camp, I was 13. One of my fellow campers had a manual 35mm SLR camera with a beautiful lens by comparison. Looking through the viewfinder while we were on our first trip, I saw how a lens could allow manual focusing and sharply framed compositions. It was my first memorable feeling for the technical aspect of making images connecting with my vision. I still remember the details of that moment looking north up the lake from our island campsite.
The next summer I brought a 35mm SLR camera given to me over the winter by my grandfather who also loved photography and recognized my emerging interest. The first few summers, I made photographs to share the wilderness experience with family and friends back home. After a few summers, I began to look for things I hadn't photographed before, like the tactile details of a tumpline knot or blackened fire irons. Back home I would print, edit, and put them into albums. This was when I first learned how images and collections of images could become a narrative.
What advice can you give to new photographers?
1. Be kind, honest, and authentic to yourself because this will reflect in what you make. Embrace your present experience knowing that it’s okay to not understand an experience at first. After the process of experience and reflection repeats itself, like training for a sport, then look for the feeling of being in control of the present moment. This leads to the mastery of your tools and technique, which is initially a barrier to making art. Making art is the articulated expression of mindfulness. Using technique and mindfulness in concert is the challenge.
2. After a few experiences making art you can begin to connect the dots of your interests and steer a course forward on this line and start to recognize your ongoing states of growth and rest.
3. Network and collaborate. This will help you learn about your boundaries and how you can contribute across those boundaries to help other people.
4. Before starting a project consider who the audience is. Ask if your intent is to connect with an audience or simply explore ideas and technique for your personal growth. You can control to some degree what you show your audience about yourself, but you have less control over how your audience interprets this expression. It’s important to understand that these two perceptions are different and dynamic. Sometimes they’re in harmony and sometimes they’re not.
5. Extracurricular classes and clubs are a great way to play with new interests and find mentors. There are also many great resources online for learning new skills to enable you to express your ideas and broaden your perspective. Be curious, explore, reflect, repeat. And as we all know, help the other fellow and leave the studio cleaner than you found it for the next person.