For quite some time I have enjoyed participating in blogs, as it has given me ideas about my own photography and offered me a venue to have others view my work. In a very modest way I have been successful in the blogging community and until now, I have enjoyed that ‘perceived’ success. It has given me a method to gauge my own work, to have something to push against, to measure.
But over the past several days that has changed. I no longer want to participate as I find there is something within me artistically that is beginning to emerge, something which I cannot fully explain. I find that by jumping from page to page, looking upon other’s art, commenting, listening to the words of others, my own work has become diluted. I recently looked at a book titled, The World’s Top Photographers: Photojournalism: And the Stories Behind Their Greatest Images. I have always aspired to become a photojournalist, covering the angst and suffering to try to tell a story that is often untold in hopes of bringing hope and change to those who may not have a voice. And in some small way help change just a few small things that are unfair and wrong in this world.
But as I began to look upon the images in that book, doubt came over me. For the very first time in my photographic dreams I felt doubt. I have had plenty of doubts about my own skills and ability to capture the feelings I struggle so regularly to obtain in my images. But this was the very first time that I doubted my ability to chase my dream. And as a result I have begun to question why I am pursuing photography. I had read an interview with Annie Leibovitz a while back when she had gone on a photojournalism assignment. She recalled that many of the seasoned photojournalist asked what she was doing there, that her photographic work had nothing to do with ‘real life.’ She went on to say that she felt a bit shunned by the group, since they viewed her work as trivial in comparison to what they had done for many years. She ended up befriending one of the war correspondents who told her, ‘After you cover a war, it’s hard to photograph anything else. It all seems so trivial. That’s the primary reason you find war photojournalists going from war to war.’
Although I have not had the chance to cover something as horrid or as dangerous as a war, I can relate to that statement. For me it seems that the places I have been displaying my work online and the effort I have put forth to participate in those communities seems poignantly trivial. I want my work to be for something. Improvement for improvement’s sake is no longer enough. I talked about this with Tracy the other night and she reminded me that what I do in part is for self expression and I agree. I have felt much satisfaction from this craft which has allowed me a voice visually. But I am at a point where I want more than just images on a screen or positive words written by other photographers. I want to make a difference with them. The image I have posted today is of Juan Pedro Gaffney, the Musical Director of Coro Hispano. It is extremely poignant to me, as his hand gestures say ‘Stop.’ And for a while, that is exactly what I will do. I will pause to reflect on my motives and goals for photography.