August 27th, 2017 … The Shroud of Mystery of Our Work … Leica M

It is said that a photo speaks 1000 words. I remember being at opening receptions for my work. I would walk around and listen to people talking about the photos. Sometimes I heard very interesting comments. Sometimes someone would ask me why I made a photo and others asked how I made a photo. Still others asked what the body of work was about. Maybe I am just not educated enough to answer in a very elegant manner. I’m not being Fa cesious at all but honest.


After the opening and I spent time thinking and feeling about the experience, I would reflect back at the comments I heard or was asked. Not because I wanted to remember the comments but because of how they made me think. I would continue to work and just be intense doing so but inside, I was searching for answers. Remembering the answers I gave to the people that asked me questions at the event but really struggling to find a resolution for myself. Perhaps these answers would only dwell inside me and never find the light of day.  I wondered if that was even an acceptable solution.


So if a photo speaks 1000 words, maybe there is no reason for any words after it. I disagree. I believe that the value and intent of a photo changes with time. We like to think that when we make a photo, it is like an anchor for our thoughts, feelings and intent. Well, perhaps this is true but like it or not, the value and intent of the photo will change. It is not nor ever an anchor. It it just a catalyst to launch feelings, thoughts etc in the here and now and as that here and now changes thru time and life. This challenged every belief and thought about photography. I wondered if I was wrong but in due time, I realized I was right. Let me say this. What is right for me may not be for you.


So I realize that my duty is to make photos. It’s what my life is about. Nothing less. My deceased friend Peter told me….”you make the photos and let others talk about them”. Well, I listen to Peter but that doesn’t dissolve the thoughts I keep inside. I was anxious to know what I was doing and why. I also knew and know that the pursuit of the answers I sought would and will detract from the work I do.


What I noticed mostly with collectors and curators etc. They look at the photos and say very few words. Then I see that I made the photos but longed for the words. I felt that if there was 1000 words living in the photos, I wanted to know those words. I felt outside of what I was doing. They became the connection to the work I was and am responsible for.

Not so quickly and maybe not even yet, I realized that photos are more personal then I believe. The catalyst called the photo allows and supports different feelings and thoughts from each individual viewer. Even then, that can and all will change with the passing of time.


I do know somethings. I know that many people comment and understand my work. I don’t. I don’t act like I do either. All I can do is follow my instincts and make the next photo. I long to understand what and why I’m doing it but I can’t grasp it. All I can do is make the photos and love them as a part of me. Others can talk if they choose but the words spoken or thoughts will have little or no effect on my continuing. I make photos because I have to. I make photos because it’s my life’s work.

I make photos for the moment of the memory and the memory of the moment. Do I understand why and what I’m doing. Maybe in part but not in full. Do I want to have such a strong understanding of what and why I am doing it? Well, I think not. I feel some kind of satisfying completeness making photos. I don’t understand them too much. I guess if I did, I’d have no more reason to make them and that scares the crap out of me. There are a million reasons to make photos and not one single good reason to stop.

………………..end transmission……………………………………………………….


12 thoughts on “August 27th, 2017 … The Shroud of Mystery of Our Work … Leica M”

  1. Thank you for your insightful essay Don…I seriously think you are talking to me directly and personally when I read your work, I thank you again 🙂

    1. Zahyr, thanks for the response. Perhaps I try to reach each reader on an individual basis. To be honest, I find that I am inspired by what I write and feel like I am directing to myself also.

  2. Hello Don, thank you for sharing your feelings with us. I was asked once ” why photography” ? I struggled to answer, to find a good answer. And I ended up with ” I don’t know”. I felt that I needed to find the answers to give to my work a legitimacy. Reading your thoughts with doubts, questionings enlighten me. There are things that you can’t explain. Same goes for the photographs. I wrote a blog on “giving titles”. I gave up on giving titles. Some people are good at that and also at talking about their photographs. I’m not. I don’t like to dissect a picture (nor I want someone to dissect it for me…). The photograph should stand out by itself. And each personn will have a different lecture of it.
    Best regards Don !

    1. Jean,
      Thanks much for your thoughts. Titles is a sore spot with me and I will just say… no descriptive titles needed. Your spot on my friend.
      Thanks again

  3. Hi Don,
    An excellent dialogue on how the value and intent of a photograph can undergo a change, that in itself is not a constant rate of change, – that can, as I see it, be influenced not only by what we initially look at, but what we come to see – which can be subject to change because we can, and do, both internally and externally re-visit, re-think, re-assess, recognise and re-order, re-articulate, etc, etc, etc …

    1. Sean, perhaps no one understands these thoughts and feelings better then you. That of course includes me. I get them out and publish them and then read the comments to see how they are accepted and processed by others. I say this to all! When you reply, I learn what I am doing from your response. Not always but a lot.
      Thanks my friend

  4. I really appreciate for the article! I just feel deep appreciation. Sometimes I think about why I do or was doing that or other things, and the best answer which I find is “I don’t know”. There are so many threads are involved that it is so hard to find which one from them is the most important or is the most right… Especially this is true when the threads are made from instincts… How understand them?.. I make photos and really don’t understand why, but I feel deep enthusiasm while doing a photo… I’m looking at it and I don’t understand. I try to understand and there are even some unconscious efforts to put this beautiful bird into a golden cell, but, definitely it will be better to leave the bird free. The bird is beautiful when is free.

    1. Andrey,
      You bring in the mix of things that effect and sway your journey. Maybe I couldn’t reach everyone and don’t expect to. I try to express my thoughts and feelings. It’s nice they reach you and nice for me to know your thoughts in return.

  5. Thanks for another thought provoking post Don. Your posts are always stimulating and inspire me to see my own photographic endeavors in a different light … excuse the pun. Take care out there. I have a day off and have to hit the streets.

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