Journal 0037 – 0048 – Statement

February 5th, 2012

Journal 0037Submitting myself to photography, will force me to lead the type of life I know I should live.  Photography is commonly thought of as the easiest art form, and for a long time not thought of as an art form at all.  I understand this sentiment.  But there is something very special about photography that makes it different, that I have never seen written or heard talked about.  Photography puts a demand on you that no other art form does - what I would call 'the demand of presence'.   For example, you could paint or draw a picture of the Eiffel Tower, write a story or poem about the Eiffel Tower, create a sculpture of the Eiffel Tower, and all the while, never have even stepped a foot in France.  But photography requires your presence.  You have to meet the Eiffel Tower, experience her, and seduce her.    If you are a photographer of people, you have to meet people.  If you want a photograph from the peak of Mount Everest, you better have a parka.

Because of this demand of presence, photography is in its very nature autobiographical. By looking at the photos, you can learn: where the photographer has been, with whom he as talked, whom he has fucked, and if he is willing to risk his life in his endeavor. When you view the photographers work, you are seeing with his eyes, not only where he has been, but what he found worthy to photograph - and in that, you are also seeing behind his eyes. To me, the photographers who embrace photography's autobiographical nature are my favorites, for in the end they create the deepest connection with me and are playing to the strength and uniqueness of photography. Ultimately in art, how can we care about paper, silver nitrate, paint, or canvas. What I care about is people, and it is what I should care about.

How can it be otherwise? Why would we want it to be otherwise? I am all about the artist. I am all about the artist. I am all about the artist. That is ultimately what I want to know: The Artist. To someone who says that they only care about the art, and not the artist, ask if they would feel the same about the work if it was created by a computer. To me, art is almost just a way to find an interesting person. Art doesn't matter to me so much as a way to find someone to make a connection to, and then to make that connection through the art. A body of work can give an indication as to whether the person is someone whom I want to know more about. It is that first hint, a brush against the shoulder, or an enticing scent. And photography excels at this. I feel I know much more about the photographerlooking at her photographs, then I do about a painter looking at her paintings.  Did the artist lead a full, manly life, like Hemingway - hunting big game, drinking excessively, then putting his favorite shotgun in his mouth and blowing his head off at 61, or did the artist lead the life of a troubled young Francesca Woodman and kill herself at age 22 by jumping out a loft window in NYC after not receiving funding from the N.E.A.?    I find both lives fascinating.  I want to connect to both.  After I know something about the person, their artwork then becomes more important to me.   Who the artist is, and how they live their life, THAT creates a connection with me.  Then after I have that connection, as a collector, I want to own their work.  I want a piece of that person.    As a collector, I am a cannibal.My realization about the nature of photography, and what I love about it, leads me in one direction with my work -  in the direction of presence, and in the direction of biography.  This I fully accept is part of my job as a photographer.  If I want to make great photographs, I have to seek out, find, and photograph great things.  In this, I have to become the kind of person who experiences great things.    Being the photographer of my dreams, forces me to live the life I should.  As a writer or painter, I could sit in my favorite chair for 12 hours every day, creating compelling stories or beautiful paintings.  As a photographer, I can't.  Photography demands something different.  I have to gain access.  I have to have balls.  I have to climb mountains or climb inward.I need to carve out my life using the camera as a chisel.  If I want my artwork to be autobiographical, which I do.  If I want my photographs to be interesting or beautiful, which I do.  Then I must live a life surrounded by, and in search of interest and beauty.  As a photographer, if I don't do this, what good am I?  If I sit at home at night watching reruns of Seinfeld, what good am I?  If I don't have the balls to talk to a beautiful woman on the street, and the game to convince her to model for me, what good am I?  If I am too afraid to enter the combat zone, what good am I?  If I want my work to be autobiographical, and I don't carve out an interesting life, what good am I.  Am I going to be a good story, or am I going to be milquetoast?