Having Something to Say

Andrea in Fort Greene Park

Andrea in Fort Greene Park

The photos below are from Breakneck Ridge. Taken on an old Ricohflex TLR in the morning fog after scrambling 800 feet in a cold sweat up boulders split by time and erosion. Trying not to drip sweat over the old leather case and hoping the damn thing was in focus because I couldn’t see anything. There’s something so satisfying about abandoning NYC for a day to be in nature. Even more satisfying to scale a mountain or ridge line. I find it’s a great way to practice mindfulness. One foot in front of the other: no thinking just doing and being. But I lugged that heavy TLR in because I knew I would have something to say about my hike with a photograph. Isn’t that why we are drawn to photography? To visually communicate something we have to say? 

Storm King Mountain from afar

Storm King Mountain from afar

I tend to not write a blog post until I have something to say. In the age of social media, sharing the minutia of every day life is an easy trap to fall into. It’s too easy to post about nothing because you can voice your opinion to the masses with no effort. Or maybe even no thought. But I don’t think it’s enough to just take pictures and talk about the technical issues behind them. A post about what gear you used is informative but boring. I was just looking at the 2014 ESPN Body issue and the images blew me away. They tell stories. They evoke feelings. They show off the heights of physical prowess. Shouldn’t every image we take strive to tell a story, to evoke an emotion, to captivate and inspire? Otherwise aren’t we just instagramming our best meals and humblebrags? 

The same is true for portraiture. why take a picture of a person without having something to say? The image should evoke something. For the ESPN body series, the beauty and raw power of the athletes photographed held me breathless. And sometimes that’s enough for a photo, just to marvel at someone’s beauty and grace. It’s the reason I like the photo of Andrea at the beginning of the post. It’s just a striking image that holds your attention. Sometimes all you have to say is “LOOK AT THIS THING”. It’s why Terry Richardson keeps getting hired, despite his eccentric nature. his photos are simple, but god damn if they don’t hold your interest.

What’s hard is when a photo holds a special meaning for you, but to the outside observer it’s meaningless. I’m learning more and more that the best photos are meaningful to all. Striving to making interesting photos is my main goal now. This changes my approach to event photography. This changes my approach to portraiture. This changes my approach to every single photo.