My last workshop was during the summer of 2019. I always kept things loose and open. So I had no agenda to pass on or follow. I just answered questions to the best of my ability and also, answered questions that may not have been on the session we were in.
I never thought of myself as a teacher and I was told I was a mentor. Titles always seem to push preconceptions in life and the photo.
Speaking of preconceptions and the picture…..I’ve made countless shots of this stairway to the underground. For me it’s the man made environment gobbling up it’s creator. We all find it so easy to be lost in the crowd, It’s not just about photography but more about life, kinda like street shooting and it’s relationship with breathing. it becomes so natural to find our subject matter amongst the ruins of time and seeing the decay of the human condition. Hark! Be aware, maybe the world is all beautiful and everything like a dream but there is still the element of you in that dream.
I remember a lifetime ago being on a walk with Garry Winogrand. I asked him what drawed him to subject matter. I suppose I was looking for the magic key to his triggers. He said, you will never make photos of anything but yourself. It’s all a portrait of you.
Then he asked me about Vietnam again and was like a reporter trying to find what clicks in me. I was open with him and we talked about heavy stuff. We hit 34th street and I said i need to get back to Philly. He looked at me and said, Don, I hope you find peace in your life, and always have your camera ready. Those words were the nicest words anyone ever said to me. I was moved. We went out own ways and I turned once and saw Garry and he waved to me. That was the last time i ever heard from or saw Garry. To this day, to every vet I ever met, I always say… I hope you find peace in your life.
There are many lessons in ones life. We get to remember some and maybe, just maybe we can apply a life lesson into our photography. Some tell me that experience is equal to a lesson. I certainly disagree. We have experiences and not necessarily learn from them. A life lesson last with us as long as we stay true to ourselves.
Garry was right, it’s all a portrait of ourselves.
I hope you all find peace in your lives.