Photography is one of the seductive means of making memories. So I wonder why many aren’t aware that they are making memories. Let’s face it, photography has many purposes and we can never meet all of them at any given time. So I guess it’s wise to get a grasp on what we are doing in the here and now and focus our attention and energy on what we are doing with our camera. We normally don’t think in terms of any specific intent other than making photos.
Well, photojournalist and wedding shooters are photographers and yet they have a different intent than a street shooter has. Well, for the moment right? Street shooters have a different intent than say, a portrait shooter. A portrait shooter gas a different intent than a landscape shooter. All are photographers and all have a different intent for what they are doing. The thing is…………:
There are common denominators with all. Well, cameras are common to all. Yet, that is not specific enough.
Surely there must be something that all not only have in common but that they may or may not be aware of what it is that is in common. Well, I think the single most important thing that all have in common is……:
……..the simple fact that photography does an excellent job of,……….. recording memories. Oh yeah, let’s just take that for granted, I mean after all.. I’m a street shooter and what the hell do I care about being aware that I am recording memories? If I’m making memories, fine…leave me the hell alone and let me do my work. If you wanna see memories in my work, go ahead but don’t bother me with this bullshit.
See, our brains have a really great filing system. It works flawlessly unless it is swimming in alcohol or breathing medicinal pot. Otherwise, it works well most of the time unless it goes on vacation. Mine does that more as I get older. Now at my age, I don’t need it too much anyway.
So we get clobbered with info from the world and then our subject matter and then the brain tells the mind to process everything and make a photo. So let’s say you are on the street and your making photos. Then an accident happens. You make some photos. You think your making photos because you see an interesting subject. What’s really going on is that you are making memories and maybe just maybe those photos will have importance to someone.
When I was in Nam, I carried my M4 and 35 Cron on a neck strap always. I photographed everything I could. In the morning for example, I would do some portraits of the guys. We might be on a fire base or whatever. Then maybe shit hit and we did our job and I made photos when I could. First duty was the M16 or 45. Then the Leica, usually for the aftermath.
Then I would get my Negs and small prints back and look at them. I’d hand out the photos to the guys and then…hmmmm I might have a photo of a troop that didn’t make it.
I became acutely aware that photography is about memories. It’s about other shit too, but memories are the main source of image information transference. I have many photos of what Nam was about. Many soldiers I made photos of are on the wall in DC and other places. I have been asked many times to publish a book of the photos.
See, they are not just my memories. Those soldiers that I made photos of lying dead, they are sons and brothers and everything to family. I won’t do anything with these photos. It’s disrespectful and too painful for the families. When I’m dead, but no hurry, then my daughter will have rights to them and she can do as she pleases. By then all will be forgotten of these warrior heroes that gave me life. All will be forgotten about a war in a foreign land that no one wins. All will be forgotten of the pain that still hurts 45 years later.
the photos, well… they are just memories…………..