As more and more people in my life learn that I’ll be going to photography school in a few months, the question I get most often is “Why photography?”
Those who know me well don’t have to ask. I’ve carried a camera on me at all times since I was sixteen (in high school I even captured an outraged student lying down in the street in front of the city bus to protest some mistreatment; the police got involved and it was very exciting!). Birthdays, holidays, travels, random outings: I document them and always have. I eventually developed more than a purely documentary aesthetic and started photographing everyday objects I found beautiful. Life is in the details, right?
In high school I took a photo class (this was before digital) and fell in love with the darkroom. Though my program next fall will be digital only, there is something about the darkroom I’d love to explore further, maybe somewhere down the line. That chemical smell is just fabulous (I can smell it even now if I close my eyes and concentrate), and the intensity of the blackout room where we pried apart the film canisters by feel was so strangely wonderful (even though teenage couples would lock themselves in there for “extended film extraction sessions”).
More about that high school photo class when I go home for Thanksgiving and get access to the photos I took then. There’s a nice binder full of my projects that I’d love to look at again! Oh, the nostalgia …
The point is, I’ve always loved photography, though that fact is probably not evident to everybody. Most of my professional colleagues had no idea, and why would they? It’s not as if I come to the office and start snapping away (though I think I could find some exceptionally interesting material if I did!) It is particularly fun to see the looks of surprise and even confusion when they hear the news. There’s more to me than they think …
But I’m still not getting at the WHY of why I love photography. The real answer is that we like what we like and it’s hard to say why. For me, it’s that photography is creative, but also has a technical aspect that is a good challenge. It can tell the truth or lie completely. It is up to me and what I see.
I think I couldn’t help but love photography from an early age because of the greatest influence in my life: my mother. She was a shutterbug herself, and boy do we have the family holiday photos to prove it. Every year we were dressed up and toted around to different locations for holiday card photo shoots.
Here’s one with all three of us at some sort of Chuck E. Cheese or other mecca of family fun (note the matching plaid shirts):
But this one takes the cake. I have very clear memories of being driven out to the Century City mall specifically to pose with these giant sparkly presents:
How could I NOT love photography after all this?