From 1988 to 2010 I did one thing with my life: photography. That’s about it. There were slight forays into side projects, adventures, but very, very minimal attempts. I spent all those years studying photography, thinking about photography, practicing photography and making my living with photography. Perhaps there was room for much more but I either didn’t see it or I didn’t care to see it.
All of this has changed. In 2010 I walked away from photography as a career and began my quest with Blurb. This has been the best job I’ve ever had, by far. Hot tub installer? Fragrance model? Not even close. Blurb opened my eyes to a much larger creative industry and I began to cherry-pick all the amazing things being done outside of the photography world. But perhaps more importantly, Blurb gave me time. Time to think about things outside of photography and time to think about who I really was.
Turns out I’m a lot more than someone who presses the button. As photography faded in importance in my life other things began to reemerge. Cycling, hiking, fly fishing, climbing, writing and a bevy of other things. Some of these pursuits became slight obsessions, like cycling, while others were rare but meaningful, like climbing. (I’m a gym climber now.) How far have I drifted? I’m in Tucson as I write this and my wife and I are buying rock hammers so we can go rockhounding. Yep, the situation is grave.
I also began playing the guitar, doing online language classes and began reading my ass off. Broadening my knowledge base, broadening my experience base.
When I look at my photography from the early 2000s I have serious doubt as to whether I am good enough now to create images like that. But the real question is does it matter? What if I can’t? I think I would still trade my current self for my past self because I think I am a better, more intelligent person. I’m more well rounded. I think about other people, and their projects, a lot more than I think about myself.
Photography is a skill, just like sport. The more you practice the better you are. So potentially were I to commit like the old days there is a chance I could get it back. But photography, especially documentary photography, is about so much more than the button-pushing. Trust, access, commitment. And these things you just can’t turn on. The next time I know I will be photographing for real is March 21st. If things go as planned. This doesn’t bode well for returning to form, but again, the trade is okay.
So maybe this one for another is a good thing. Or maybe I left winning cards on the table? Winning what is another question. Or is there anything left to win? I say yes there is. But for now, I will continue to strive for balance, range, and experience while I hammer the Hell out of random outcroppings.