Franklin Street, Greenpoint, 2012
Sometimes it takes a long time to come to the simplest of realizations. In the case of photography, I think I may have finally made one of the most important realizations in my quest to define what it is I’m doing.
This may not sound like a big thing. But it’s big to me.
Photography isn’t my “day job.” But there are links between photography and my day job that bring this realization about.
So what’s the realization? It’s simple, really. It’s recognizing that although I have perhaps pretentiously thought of myself in artistic terms, what I really am is an explorer, a pattern seeker, an observer of the small elements of a large world.
If there’s one thing that explains me, and also explains why my habits sometimes drive those around me crazy, it’s my curiosity. I like to learn. I like to see new things. I’m curious about things work and relate to each other.
But unlike some explorers, I’m not inclined to take on a single personal style or subject. Photographing nothing but Fourteenth Century churches or surfers or vintage automobiles would very quickly get very old with me.
Instead, I’d rather explore the opportunities of the natural and built-up worlds as I encounter them. It’s not that I go anywhere terribly exotic. I’m pretty sure, though, that a lot of people have little interest in exploring the back corners of the everyday world I like to look into. So there’s a chance that I might be able to bring back photographs that these other people will find unexpectedly interesting.
Actually, photographer and educator Jeff Curto said this much better in a recent podcast when he observed, “When we make a picture of something, we elevate the importance of that subject merely by the act of paying attention to it with our camera.”
I’m big on what I call “little moments,” elements of the natural or built-up world that have some pattern, color or play of light and dark that call out to me to be amplified. They’re things other people walk right by without noticing, or to which they give, in any event, little conscious attention. Like this building, above, on Franklin Street in Brooklyn, New York. Dozens of people drove or walked past it just while I was preparing to take this picture. I wonder how many noticed the light or the shadows or the way that light and shadows and colors came together to create a story in that brief moment before the clouds moved in and the rain came?
I’m going to keep exploring because there’s no end to these little moments.