The Tourist

At what point did I stop participating in my own life?  From the time I chose photography as my medium for creative expression I have been experiencing nearly all moments through a barrier.  Susan Sontag wrote an essay entitled Melancholy Objects that was published in her book On Photography“the camera makes everyone a tourist in other peoples reality, and eventually in ones own.”  I’ve seen this quote elsewhere but only recently had I made the time to take in this required text for nearly all photographers who might be interested in more than just technical theory.  Through a critical eye I feel Sontag adoringly scrutinizes the characteristics inherent to the medium and those who choose to embrace it.

As I write these words there is a flush of panic that briefly consumes me.  This mini whirl of anxiety is a product of facing a truth about my own involvement with photography.  I am humbled to admit that maybe I haven’t been living my own life, that I have only been experiencing a life manufactured through a lens.  I have become a tourist in my own reality, a reality that possibly is distorted due to the subjective nature of the act of photographing.  I have not only been separated from experience, I have created a fictional experience for my own purposes of picturesque reflection.

This is what I adore about the photograph.  The transformation of the generic into the idyllic.  The fact that my waxing of poetic vision is different than yours.  That it is mine and for my own sake of memory.  However, after any beautiful dream comes the awakening.  Have I in fact missed the purpose of experiencing devastating loss- which I handle far too well?  Have I in fact relied on this crutch to shape my own memories into a road map or travel brochure as laid out by a circumventing navigator?  Have I in fact lost the ability to create neurological cabinets of memories without the use of imagery to amplify their influence?  The answer is a solemn yes.

 I don’t document social conflict or superficial landscapes or models selling products.  I am a photographer who uses the medium and craft in selfish ways.  I create a picture book for myself and myself alone.  I have become a voyeur to provide an education of myself to myself.  What I have learned from watching myself through the viewfinder of the life I call a camera is that I am always reaching to find a connection or a commonality to believe in.  I am not always patient and I create a struggle by remapping my own way.  That I am a person with many sensitivities over what has been lost and goes to great lengths to capture and depict such a melancholic wellspring in its narrow and seldom vast forms.  Most importantly the camera that I hide behind has provided a steady foundation within a personal world of tremors.  So as I clutch to my mechanical eye of a security blanket, I cannot say I would have it any other way.