what kind of photographer am i?

a question that i gave up trying to figure out. i don’t know… the kind that uses a camera?

i listened to all of Them say “find your niche!” and finally just gave up, if someone locates my niche… could you let me know? it’s been 15yrs and i’ve tried them all on for size. what i came up with is that i like people. it’s funny because in school, i hated shooting faces. i loved architecture. i loved angles of walls, stairs, the way the light poured through the windows. this image by andre kertesz is still hanging on the wall of my darkroom.

by Andre Kertesz

by Andre Kertesz

 

even now, looking at it, i’m in love and just want to roam thru silent spaces void of people… collecting light. i had a show in nashville of my work from this time period. all film images and printed by me on 16 x 20 fibre. those were the days. i may have to dig up those negatives and post them… but that’s for another time. here is my favorite:

photo by me (1999) on 16×20 fibre print

 

my phase of wanting to only shoot still life and architecture quickly moved to street photography when i went to paris for the first time. it was the first time i pointed my lens at a person with intent, with the need to capture more than the moment… but the entire scene. i needed to gather it all into the tiny box i wore around my neck… because what if i never get to go back?!

looking at those images, that was exactly the time when the desire to record emotion was realized. i guess that’s it for every street photographer… to gather people’s emotions or the mood of a night… all into our little boxes… there is something slightly creepy about the whole of photographers…voyeuristically collecting stolen moments of people lives. tho, this being my second post and all i should probably not go so dark.

after that trip and that realization i went to work at a film lab in nashville. no, it was not like a walgreens. our lab handled photographer’s images from around the world. i mean, often i got to talk to a pultizer prize winning photographer (more on him later) and i believe, before my time there, they actually handled a few ansel adams negatives. point being, i soaked in every bit of knowledge i could. i said yes to every assistant gig that came my way… weddings, architecture, portraits… you name it and i was there (usually in heels)  schlepping equipment around not shooting… just holding ‘this’… running to get ‘that’… or helping to make a subject feel at ease in front of the camera.

here and there i begged people to let me photograph them… their weddings, their families, their portraits. anything, just to use my camera. all in film. from then on i’ve said “yes” to whatever came my way. somewhere along the line, they started paying me. it still feels crazy that i get paid to do the thing that is like breathing for me.

once dslrs became the thing… photography took a bit of a turn and i learned to be computer savvy… to edit… and i became so much better with studio lighting. so did everyone else i guess. maybe it’s naive but think there is plenty of work to go around. i think i was always meant to record. to witness. to push a button. when no one hires me anymore, i guess i’ll find something else to do.

so, what kind of photographer am i?

i’m the kind that knows no other way of seeing. it frankly doesn’t matter what’s in my view finder. i’m simply happy. i would say, if you are searching for that ONE THING you do that stands out among the ZILLION other photographers… maybe ask yourself… why is it you need to stand out? what are you trying to prove and to whom?

 

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