I’ve taken some rather mediocre photos this past week, and I’m absolutely thrilled. The reason for this seemingly incongruous declaration is that, nestled within it, is an implication that I’m indeed taking pictures — something that hadn’t really happened in the six months prior.
OK, that’s not quite true. I did photograph several labels inside Ikea so I could later retrieve those items from the warehouse. And yeah, I took numerous shots of my flooded condo — on two separate occasions actually — courtesy of a neighbour whose love of long showers is matched only by his disdain for shower curtains. But other than that? Zip.
That’s not to say I didn’t want to take photos. Although I’d slightly relaxed my pathological need to grab a camera every time I stepped outside the condo, I still carried one more often than not. The motivation remained, but the vision had vanished.
When the International Leica Society kidnapped me last year — detaining me until I had acquiesced to their demand for “five photography tips” — I stated on camera that “my only real tip for people is that they just try to find themselves somewhere out there, and then take a picture of that.”
It wasn’t exactly profound. After all, ULTRAsomething exists primarily as an exercise to see how many ways, and for how many years, I can continue to express this identical sentiment. So you’d think I’d be capable of following my own advice. Apparently not. Because what I discovered, after much soul searching, is that I’d spent the past six months looking for photographs of who I was, and not of who I’d become.
The fact is, everyone changes. Nothing is static. That hairstyle that flattered you in 1987 probably doesn’t do so today. Sometimes the changes are gradual, and sometimes they’re sudden. For me, this has been one of those sudden years — a year of loss; a year of change; a year in which external forces have altered the very landscape of my Egorness.
There are holes where there was once life; holes where there was once hope; holes in dreams; holes in reality; holes within holes. I am, shall we say, a bit more melancholy. Often, where I would once see a photo, I would now see only another hole.
And so it occurred to me. If holes are what I see and holes are who I am, then shouldn’t I be photographing holes? Why keep shopping for allegorical curios when you no longer own a metaphorical shelf to display them?
So I abandoned my search for baubles, and began to focus on holes — specifically holes that prevent wholes. And naturally, because I was once again photographing myself, I began to see holes everywhere. I’ll be the first to admit that these are not the most compelling photos to have emerged from my camera — but they are the first to have emerged in many months. At one week into my career as a hole photographer, I’m still too new to even be a noob.
We are rarely who we were, and we are not now who we will likely be. We are only who we are, right this second. Who we are is what we see, and what we see is what we can most easily and effectively photograph. So go photograph it.
©2017 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THE PHOTOS:
Recognizing that I wasn’t exactly prolific these past 6 months, I took to carrying only film cameras. Why disappoint myself constantly by the utter paucity of images on an SD card, when I can wait… and wait… and wait until I collect enough images on a strip of acetate to warrant the bother of viewing? Last month, after realizing I’d had Tri-X fermenting in a couple of cameras for over a year, I decided to buckle down and finish those rolls. One month and zero photos later, I made the resolution once again — only this time I backed it up with my newfound identity as a hole photographer. Needless to say, these are all “end of the roll” shots.
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