Sunday, December 19, 2010


Recently someone made a tentative stab at recruiting me to lead photo tours of foreign spots.  Thirty middle class or better amateurs off to do the sites, lugging lord knows how much high priced digital photo gear...

I wondered why on earth they would want to do that.  I have covered in my musings here the subjects of photographic art and, to a degree, the photographic business.  Now, I suppose it is time to ponder why an otherwise sane doctor or lawyer or chiropodist would want to hang out with 30 other amateurs and a sprinkling of hired pros to take pictures of sunsets in Namibia. 

I still have heavy metal boxes of my father's Anscochrome and Kodachrome slides from out trips in the family Chevy to exotic places like Northern Wisconsin and South Dakota.  I remember the slide shows he did for neighbours and friends with our one-slide-at-a-time (pre-carousel or slide tray) projector.  I remember how deathly dull they were to even me, who had been there.  And the shows our neighbours did for us, to return the punishment, were, if anything, worse, because I had not been there. To think that showing trip photos today on a flat screen television with some generic music or on a laptop or I-Phone is going to be any more entertaining for the neighbours is delusional. 

Are these amateurs going to print and matte and frame the photos for wall display in place of real art on the walls of their castles?  One can only hope.

There are few, if any,  valid extrinsic reasons to blow 3K on a trip carrying 12K in gear to take photos. So, the reasons must be intrinsic.  Maybe we look back to the first man who drew a bison on a cave wall. Maybe he was just doodling or maybe he was trying to communicate something that his language skills could not adequately convey or maybe he was making magic. I prefer the magic theory.

I prefer the magic theory because I can remember long before I was cognizant of trying to produce photographic art to sell or display or exhibit or get published and well before I made a dime taking commercial photos for money, I FELT the magic at the moment I knew I had a good image sitting in my viewfinder-- an instant away from a shutter press. 

Photography is a ritualistic form of hunting.  It is the same feeling I get the instant before I release my arrow on a deer giving me a broadside view at 15 yards.  A momentous moment... An ecstatic moment...  A moment I will never forget...  I can feel each shutter press on each great image as I go through the steamer trunks of unpublished and un-displayed personal work I have.  I can remember each moment before each deer I have harvested. 

Hunting pictures...

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