The broader brushstrokes of the issue are fairly simple – I never had the patience to be a painter. The stamina needed to work on a single canvass for the days, weeks or months that it deserved, was much more than I could ever give.
Photography on the other hand allowed me to work in short bursts of contrasting emotions and skills, all of which offered a variety of challenges, fears and satisfactions.
This fragmented way of working suited me perfectly, with each new image taking me on a journey that could last mere moments or countless months. From the thrills of releasing the shutter, to the joy of seeing the negative for the first time, and onwards, through that long process – both psychological and physical – that is the birth of an image, emerging shy and tentative, from your minds eye, before blossoming into the reality of the final print.
And this was the answer I have lived with and accepted for years.
Until recently when I was hit, square between the eyes, by a magical eureka moment.
A moment that occurred in the darkroom as I was seeing the latest batch of negatives for the first time. A moment filled with cliches and truths. A moment that lifted the clouds and weights from my mind, as my comfortable assumptions were shattered.
A moment that was five months in the making, stretching back to a day in the sand dunes of Colorado…a connection through time so perfect that it took my breath away.
Back to a magical September morning in the Great Sand Dunes National Park…
It had been a long, hard and productive climb to the top of the enormous dunes, laced with some stunning photos along the way.
I stood exhausted and high, with a view across the valley towards the mountains. The wind blowing violently through me, the sun rising relentlessly around me – there I was, a tiny, insignificant me, with more energy running through my essence than I knew what to do with. A swirling vortex, a gift from the universe entering me, mixing dangerously with my creativity…and there was nothing I could do about it.
It had to come out, it needed to come out.
I had to let it out, I needed to find an outlet.
So I laughed.
And as the energy coursed through me, convulsed out of me in hysterical spasms, I thanked the universe. For everything, absolutely everything. I thanked it for the good and the bad and above all, I thanked it because I wanted more. More of everything. Much more. I was ready. More. More. More life.
I was at one. With everything. I was ready.
Ready for life. Ready to create more images. Ready to stumble, slide and slip back down the dunes, back into the arms of time. I walked, hand in hand with my future, towards whatever it was I was now ready for. Towards whatever it was I had asked for, whatever it was the universe was sending my way. Exhausted I fell back into normality.
And so life went on. As it does.
Until 5 months later and that magical eureka moment in the darkroom.
A cold dark day in February, weeks into the long, slow process of developing the 70 or so films that had been sitting in the darkroom waiting for me, calling to me and itching to be born.
I was excited. I was impatient.
I wanted to see the images from the dunes that had, at the time of taking, helped tip me over the edge, into my moment of hysterical intimacy with the universe.
As the negatives slid through the carrier, light bringing them to life, the anticipation hummed. A connection started to form as memories of my moment in the dunes started to swirl.
Slowly, on the edges my consciousness, I could taste my revelation approaching from the peripheries of my awareness, subtly taking seed.
Here they were, images of a moment I had been wanting to revisit and relive for five months. A moment during which Mother Nature and I had shamelessly flirted, knowing we were about to give birth to something special.
I remembered vividly and was filled with hope and excitement…this was going to be good.
Reality though didn’t want to play with hope.
The first few images I was seeing weren’t quite there. Not as perfect as I remembered…then clearly, a voice in my head muttered…
I trust you.
I trust you.
And there it was, it happened – ripping and echoing through time. A powerful, perfect connection, a vortex, a worm hole. The energy gushed out of me as my laughter in America, thrown forward in time, contacted my now, my anticipation in the darkroom.
My revelation, merely tasted moments before, hit me full force as echoes of my past unbridled creativity mixed with a plodding and considered darkroom in the present, all of it coated in hopeful anticipation. My mental taste buds slipped into overdrive as abstract concepts solidified into deep, personal understandings, steeped in self awareness.
There I was, then. Another person. Back there in the sand dunes, a different me. The one lost in the moment, using the tools needed to take the photograph. Exhilarated, possessed by mother nature – the power of the wind, the depth of the sand, the strength of the sun, laughing – lost to his emotions, lost in the moment, living by the seat of his pants, instinctively, a mad professor.
Here I was, now. Calm, collected, the person I became the moment I left the dunes. The person I become when, exhausted, drained and spent I stop taking photographs, pushing the emotions away, not getting my hopes up. Calm and confident that I had the image, yet Not. Getting. Carried. Away.
“I trust you.
I trust you.”
I was two people. I was more than two people. I was many people. I had split myself for my art. Or perhaps it was the other way around. Perhaps I had chosen an art that allowed me to satisfy my extreme characteristics, the extremes of my personality.
And this was what made me perfect for photography – what made photography perfect for me.
It wasn’t as straight forward as I had initially thought. That simple need for short bursts of activity to suit my short attention span was not the complete answer.
It was also, it would appear, about the multiple skills, for the multiple facets of my personality.
I trust you.”
I have evolved into my art. The different, varying aspects of my creativity have all evolved separately to match the skills required for analogue photography. I have become a convoluted complicated, symbiotic life form, my photography existing as a separate life form within me.
Cause and effect – one cannot exist without the other.
My alter ego. Alter egos. All living within me, coming to life at the various stages of my photographic journey. Has photography created them? Or did they create my love (and need) for photography?
I am an eco system of creativity and creative activity. Dozens of life forms feeding each other – feeding off each other’s ideas, needs, desires, wants, ways, habits, each of them blossoming when called upon.
Finally I knew why I loved photography.
Finally I knew why I needed photography.
Finally I knew.
After nearly thirty years of considering myself a photographer, wanting to be a photographer, I had become a photographer.
I had accepted it.
And all it had taken was a vortex of energy. A wormhole through time.
May 19, 2019
April 26, 2019
January 28, 2019
February 15, 2018
January 11, 2018
October 3, 2017
September 3, 2017
June 2, 2017
June 3, 2016
May 24, 2016
May 24, 2016
June 2, 2014
November 28, 2013
June 10, 2013
May 8, 2013
May 3, 2013
March 11, 2013
February 23, 2013
January 30, 2013
November 29, 2012
February 3, 2012
January 5, 2012
May 26, 2011
May 24, 2011
May 13, 2011
April 21, 2011
April 20, 2011
April 10, 2011
April 8, 2011
April 7, 2011
March 18, 2011
March 13, 2011
March 2, 2011
March 1, 2011
February 28, 2011
February 20, 2011
October 21, 2010
October 20, 2010
October 15, 2010
October 13, 2010
September 16, 2010
August 5, 2010
June 25, 2010
June 2, 2010
May 20, 2010
May 10, 2010
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May 1, 2010
April 21, 2010
April 15, 2010
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April 7, 2010
March 28, 2010
March 15, 2010