The word photoshop used to mean to alter in a fictional way. To say something was photoshopped was to suggest there was something invented or fake about it. Things were removed or added that weren’t actually there. One response to this is to fully engage in composing fictions, as Gary Irving does in his work. While they are lifelike, realistic in representation, they are never meant to be seen as scenes that really happened, but are fantastical visions more along the lines of Dave LaChapelle. Other photographers have used photoshopping techniques in photojournalism to great effect, such as Pedro Meyer. There’s nothing about photoshop itself that has to be used for artifice and it wasn’t a necessary technology for doctoring images. The Russian propagandists under Stalin continually erased important figures from official photographs after they were purged by the State. I’m more interested with my work to investigate honesty rather than the questions of fictionality. I don’t consider myself a photojournalist. I use photography for a variety of different purposes, but the main one I’m interested in is as a way of expressing my feelings. Photography is a way of writing love letters. Ultimately, these love letters are to the divine, to the mysterious force of creation and being. They are little ways of expressing gratitude and wonder, of investigating the unknown. To photograph for this purpose is to use the world as a mirror. It is to engage in an extroverted form of self-reflection and introspection. In this way it is very similar to abstract expressionist painting. It is in this way that photography becomes an abstract art form.
This was from a year and a half ago, but it’s still relevant.
This morning, Monday morning the day after Valentine’s Day, I woke up at 4:45 as has become my habit. Lemon water drank, coffee brewed, I sat down at the laptop and woke it up. Immediately, in my Facebook Timeline, I saw a video that drew my attention. It was a clip from an episode of the television show Nature. This one was following a group of Innuit hunters through the process of building an igloo and going beneath the sea ice during the low portion of a King Tide to hunt for mussels. Watching these people attune themselves to the rhythm of natural cycles in a life and death dance with time inspired me. That’s the kind of thing I like to watch: different ways of living that I can imagine doing.
Then, I wanted something to listen to while I edited photos so I went to Timothy Ferris’ podcast and clicked on his interview with Seth Godin. Timothy Ferris is a self-help guru who is interesting as fuck. I always learn cool shit from his podcasts, so they are a go-to edifying source of background noise when I’m working. It’s definitely more than just entertainment, as he is constantly asking questions about actionable takeaways in an effort to provide value to his followers. Ferris does it right. He’s interested and so he’s interesting.
He had high praise for Seth Godin so I was stoked, but upon listening I grew more compelled by the minute. Funny and self aware, Godin is a fount of wisdom and useful advice. He’s the kind of guy you’d be lucky to have as a friend. Non-threatening, but entirely badass, he’s a ninja of thoughtfulness. Out of all of the cool things they discussed in this podcast, however, the one that stuck out the most was about parenting. Godin, in answering Ferris’ question about what advice he might have for parents, said: “Busy is a trap. Busy is a myth. If you spend two hours a day without an electronic device looking your kid in the eye, talking to them, and solving interesting problems, then you will raise a different kid than someone who doesn’t do that.” Such a simple idea, but so profoundly true.