Tuesday, November 23, 2010

some thoughts about photography

my aunt made a comment to me in an andy warhol exhibit in DC that i've mulled over for a few years. she said that she believes that people are extremely fascinated (obsessed) with pictures of themselves, not out of vanity, but curiosity. photographs give us the opportunity to see ourselves the way that other people see us. i had an experience a couple of weeks ago that has led me to believe that's only part of it. pictures sometimes help us actually see our Selves.

a couple of weeks ago i posted a diptych of self portraits on my personal blog. i ended up deleting the post because the more i looked at the photos, the more insecure i became. to anyone else, they were probably just pictures, but i actually saw my Self and it scared me.

when i took the self portraits, i was shocked because the pictures were so honest. they showed me ME, in a way that i've never experienced before. basically, my internal insecurities, challenges, and even who i am to some extent were so apparent in the pictures that i was simultaneously enthralled and upset by them. i spent a long time staring at them, analyzing how i felt, what i saw, and what i wanted to do about it. i am still very interested by the whole experience because it was an unexpectedly significant event.

when i take photos my goal is to help people see the truth about themselves and their relationships, but i've never done that with myself. the emotions they elicited aren't the point i'm trying to make with this post. it's the fact that they raised emotion at all, that they made me feel.

i want my images to evoke something when viewed. photographing relationships means more than photographing a couple, a family, friends, or any group of people. it's actually seeing and feeling the emotions that make the individuals important to each other, instead of just freezing bodies in poses. for example:
i didn't tell them to do this. they probably didn't even realize i was taking the picture because it was in between posed shots. it's my favorite image from their session.

also, another example:
and even:
so i find truth and sense in life through photography. isn't that part of the human experience, trying to find truth? everyone seeks out meaning in their way, mine is with a camera.

there is truth in love, and in beauty. not beauty in a physical attractiveness sense, although that's one aspect of it. i have to let others' words explain my feelings:

"When you look closely people are so strange and so complicated that they're actually beautiful.” - Angela Chase

“Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.” - Albert Camus

“When you reach the heart of life you shall find beauty in all things, even in the eyes that are blind to beauty.” - Kahlil Gibran

“We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.” - Kahlil Gibran

every human being is inherently beautiful because of the depth and breadth of individual complexity, experience, and emotion that is involved in a life and soul.

there are some things that just are so amazing to look at because of the feelings they inspire in us, that they can't be described as anything but beautiful.

finding truth and beauty give life meaning. successfully (and even accidentally!) photographing those things makes them apparent.

as the aforementioned aunt has stated: whether or not my career is always photography, i will go through life with a camera in my hand because i must. it's the tool i've found to help me create meaning.

and now that i've carried on, i suppose i'll be brave and re-post the diptych i've mentioned, for your curiosity's sake. so here you go:
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Pamplemousse said...

Heather, I really love how beautifully honest your pictures always turn out. I saw your self portraits before you took them down. I'm glad you put them back up!

aje&h said...

speechless. what an amazing post, m.e. i don't have anything in my hands to create meaning, but i do have people and their hearts when they share them. the picture on the left looks like the heather in my head--the one i have know all her life--infant, child, woman. you have touched my soul. love.