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All in a Photograph

A tangent on life and what one gets out of a photo.


It has been over a year since I last wrote a blog post. And in that time, I have done so much and been to so many places I had never been before. However, as my world has expanded, I find myself less and less invested in my photography and photography in general. I haven't even shot a full roll in 2024. Nor has the film I shot in Europe in December gone off to the lab. Has the whirlwind of the past year created a high that now dulls the mundane joy I used to find in a lot of photographs? All of a sudden I have this dichotomy between what used to feel meaningful and what now has become lifeless. To further the chasm of this divide, the yearning for that mundane joy in everyday life is greater than ever. I still take photos on my iPhone of moments that pass. I still look for these human moments of love, kindness, selflessness, etc. I still search for the beauty in a rundown building or a tree painted by sunlight. Always with music in my ears elevating the experience into some out-of-body, suedo-movie vignette that I live. And yet there is a numbness to it. An immunity so to speak.

Sure the winter is tough to get through. Though, could you imagine trying to get through the seasonal depression of winter and having to deal with the harsh elements, starvation, and disease like they did back in the day? I guess I have it easy just trying to deal with my mind.

Remember when Andrew Garfield gave his "She was like a shot of espresso. She was like being bathed in sunlight."? I had heard the overplayed quote a number of times and as I don't drink coffee the first part was understood but not necessarily relished. But the second half, I know exactly that feeling. What a beautiful feeling. Spring is here and hopefully here to stay. This Virginia spring has definitely lost a few skirmishes to winter. And even though spring has but a few weeks between the cold of winter and the heat of summer, I am grateful for it nonetheless.

Recently, I find myself scrolling past most photos. Whether it be my own or on social media. It is like I can't be bothered. As if I'm daring a photo to impress me. It's funny how people talk about making sure to properly archive your photos because you might come back one day and suddenly love it. But my experience has often been the reverse. I'll like many of my photos and then come back later and wonder at how I could have thought it was actually a good photo. I'm all for progress and getting better at one's craft, but I do also lament that most of my work doesn't feel joyfully sustainable. Maybe that is because my photos give me a sense of fleeting happiness that was never meant to last. Those photos have been soaked up for all that they were worth. How does one convert happiness into joy?

Have we just gotten away from everything that makes us feel alive? Has our day become too busy to have that short conversation with our neighbor or for people to sit all together and eat dinner each night? I think the sad thing is that all I want to do in life, all I really ever wanted to do in life, was love the people closest to me and make memories. I just feel like the memories portion is just so rare nowadays. People are too busy, people have too many 'icks', people don't support their friends in the same way, people don't make something out of nothing like they used to. There are so many reasons not to these days. We've all been in that situation where we hope the other person would cancel plans before you do. My question is how often are we doing the opposite. How often are we going out of our way to make things happen or show someone we care? May this next year be full of coffee shops with guitars playing, going camping with a your crew, bringing friends along for mundane tasks, impromptu meetups at a rundown bar, getting up just to see the sunrise more than once a year, making both great and terrible art, taking a chance on something, photographing your friends, taking a weekend road trip, writing and reading poetry, Saturday morning walks to get bagels, comfortable silences and calmness among friends, getting tickets to a play at a small theater, wearing that outfit you never find the right opportunity to do so, cooking new recipes, going to your local library and checking out a book instead of buying it online, picking your friends or loved ones up from the airport, planting at least one tree, sending letters and postcards, going to the beach with just your best friend, and doing whatever seems right.

For me, my attempt to start doing more of those - I started writing poetry again. I started writing in general. And I hope to write music again this year. Perhaps I'll share more of that here.

This. This is life. With all of its complexities. I know that each photograph I take will reflect who I am at that point in time. And someday I will look back and be able to see who I was just by looking at a picture. All in a photograph.

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1 Comment

Very insightful, Brett. Thanks for sharing.

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