The tentative conclusion I have come to is that all renderings of the world are, at their core, a record of some aspect of the relationship between the recorder and the conditions of space and time present during the moments of recording made for the purpose of dragging them forward into the future.
While I go about the business of making the work, submitting it and waiting for results, I am finding some time for reflection on the nature of making a photograph, or any kind of representation of the world around us for that matter.
I find myself asking the question, why do people make photographs?
The tentative conclusion I have come to is that all renderings of the world are, at their core, a record of some aspect of the relationship between the recorder and the conditions of space and time present during the moments of recording made for the purpose of dragging them forward into the future. History is the persistence of these renderings in the present moments of the days, weeks, months and years ahead, where they serve to keep the past present. With these renderings in hand, we are able to tell and illustrate stories as large as the universe and as small as sub-atomic particles and we can pass these stories and the evidence for them on to future generations.
When I choose to make a photograph, something about a present moment has caught my attention and I make a record of it so that I can carry it with me and be reminded of its relevance. I ask it to persist. To understand the image, one must begin by asking why it was important to drag a record of the particular conditions depicted forward. This is straightforward if the image is of a fellow human being. We understand the desire to keep a person alive in our minds and photographs are an excellent way to do that. It is less obvious when the image is like the one above. I am guessing that what is depicted in the photograph, a balloon, its shadow, a brick wall, a rain leader, will have little meaning to many people I might show it to. Some might find the composition and aesthetics appealing, but really, most people would rather I show them a picture of my wife or my dog. Something they can more readily relate to, something they believe tells them a bit about me.
And yet, here I am, making this image and showing it to you.
Doesn't this image flesh out something about me as a human being? And what if I assemble a collection of such images into an album (book)? Wouldn't you learn something about me by spending time with it and making an effort to understand what about the conditions depicted was important to me? Wouldn't you gain something by asking why it is I go out every day and make images like this one? Or perhaps you will think I am a little strange and maybe I am.
Through the photographs I make, I am telling the story of what I perceived in that space-time moment of which I was a part. I have preserved for reflection a piece of my attention as well as a piece of the conditions I am paying attention to. Sometimes, it is as simple as that. There is little more to the scene other than it had some particular qualities of light and object that I found interesting and wanted to preserve. The world is awash in this kind of fine grained detail. It is beautiful to behold. My equivalent of stopping and smelling the roses, which I sometimes also do.
Then there are the photographs I make that are intended to have implications beyond the moment they capture. They ask for contemplation of a larger story. They ask about the nature of time or god or the universe. Actually, it occurs to me that all of my images ask about the nature of time or god or the universe, it's just that some of them do it more self consciously than others.
I have resolved that whenever I encounter a rendering of any kind, my effort to understand it will begin by asking, why was it important to make the depicted conditions persist into the future?