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In Response to ISH

When we spoke with Ish in Volunteer Park – she touched on a subject that I often think about – “Why do we take the photos we take? and what can we use them for?” In this recording – she speaks briefly about how she felt after photographing the dead body of a boy in Detroit during a protest. She took photos instinctively – without even realizing she had taken the photographs. When she got home – she looked at them and kept asking herself “Why did I even take these?”

Often I come to a scene and ask that question. I have never been inclined to photograph people without their knowledge, or photograph a place where I do not belong. Some photographers live for only taking candid’s, but for me – it feels like such an invasion of someone’s space – even if they are in a public space. But this is a double edged sword – I have countless images in my head that I did not make because I let that part of me win. I have images that will never be made – swimming through my mind, and I constantly have that nagging sensation of “what if”. 

The camera is a powerful instrument. People have used it to change minds, to entrap people, to expose things, to inform, to document, to categorize and to manipulate. Being aware of this power is so important during our time. Digital photography can be too fast, the photographer may not think about the impact that an image may have. I think that is why I continue to use large format film and film in general – it forces me to slow down and to truly believe that the photo needs to be made. (I still take a million photographs that don’t need to be taken – but you get what I’m saying).  

I want to work on taking photographs and then editing (or even deleting) after I have taken them – not before they have even been made. I admire Ish for instinctively photographing and then deciding later that there was no need for them to be seen by others. She doesn’t have the “what if” swimming in her head the same way I do. 

I’ll be working on this

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