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 moments through a barrier.  Susan Sontag wrote an essay entitled Melancholy Objects that was published in her book On Photography and she writes, “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 taken in this seemingly required text for photographers.  Through a critical eye I feel Sontag appreciates yet 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.  Am I humble to admit that maybe I haven’t been living my own life?  That perhaps I have only been experiencing a life manufactured through a lens.  And yes, I have become a tourist in my own reality, a reality that 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.

What I adore about photography is the transformation of the generic into the idyllic.  The fact that my waxing of poetic vision is different than yours.  That this disassociation is mine and for my own sake of remembering how I want to remember or simply forgetting.  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 a dystopian travel brochure as laid out by a circumventing navigator who shares my mental model?  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; to investigate my own interior life.  I create this picture book for myself and myself alone.  I have become a voyeur to provide an education of myself to only myself.  What I have learned from watching myself through the viewfinder of the photographic life is that I am always reaching to find a connection or a commonality within myself to believe in.  I am not always patient and I create struggle by remapping what I believed was once the path.  I am a person with many sensitivities over what has been lost and will go to a great length to 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.