As a young student, I was praised for my writing skills. It’s not that I was extraordinarily talented or creative, but I could organize my thoughts, express myself clearly, and write to explain or tell or narrate. I was always good at those test questions that began with phrases like compare and contrast, describe, list, analyze.
Oddly enough for a photographer, I was not drawn to pictures. When reading for school, I usually relied on the words for understanding, often skipping pictures, graphs, and charts all together.
I’ve never been adept at reading maps or handling symbols. At one point, I thought I might never pass fourth grade because I couldn’t for the life of me understand those greater than and less than symbols. Even though I knew which number was greater, I couldn’t reason the correct symbol to describe the relationship.
When my children were young, and we read stories to them, I did not care for the picture books with no words – those like Good Dog, Carl that required the reader to tell the story from the action depicted in the illustrations.
How is it that I have come, at this middle stage of life, to be so deeply enthralled by pictures? I’ve given this question careful consideration; I don’t really have an answer for this shift. I’ve often read that the curiosity we have as children is suppressed under the responsibilities of adulthood. But, in my case, I don’t ever recall feeling carefree as a child. I only recall the weight of expectation and obligation. Instead, I rather feel like my childhood is now. And I say, better late than never.
And while most of my adult life, I have been focused on some product of one sort or another, my joy in photography comes from the process itself. Having often been plagued by the need to be perfect, to present only my best work, to say the right thing, or act in accordance with expectation, I find none of these concerns in my current practice.
I am taking the long slow road to mastering my craft. I revere my work and honor the meaning it brings to my life and to this world.