“It is easy to harden your heart but opening it is the hardest thing” — Emmet Brickowski
It’s probably been a year, maybe more, since I felt inspired to do street photography. That’s not to say that I haven’t done ANY during that time, but it’s been spotty and mostly lackluster. More than likely, my lack of enthusiasm shows in the photographs. Sometimes life deals you a rough hand, and for me one of the side effects of last year’s hand was backing away from the type of photography I’ve been passionate about for over 15 years. My faith in a lot of things took a major blow, and I’m not sure how to candidly photograph my fellow humans with so much doubt in my heart. When I have tried, I’ve felt like an impostor, fearful behind the lens, afraid of being seen, of being spotted and called out, unwelcome. That’s not a good place for a street photographer to be, and seems rife for becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.
When your eyes have been opened to How the World Really Is, can you ever look at it the same again? Can you repair rose colored glasses once they’ve been smashed?
Last year the better option for me was to photograph landscapes, quiet places, familiar people, or within the safe structure of employment, instead of seeking out compelling compositions on the street. It was a year of searching with my camera for things that I have lost. It feels like I am trying to be something I’m not; it’s strange to be exploring a new path, but mainly what I miss is the fire and desire of the work itself.
In December 2018 I went to a local Christmas festival (alone), and felt the joy start to come back to me. The air was filled with it! I felt safe there, and welcome. I photographed with happy confidence, but since that hour or so in Georgetown have managed very little. I haven’t even wanted to try.
There is always goodness, and kindness, in the world, if you are open to it, if you know how to look. These days it takes me by surprise every single time - I don’t take it for granted. I have been seeking motivation to get back out on the street with my camera: in photobooks, in working with local businesses, in little dreams of pursuing photojournalism (which may be a crazy idea), in my search for the resurrection of my faith in humanity. I’m starting to wonder if maybe part of healing my broken view is just getting back out there. After all, I have seen some incredible examples of community and love lately, and felt a part of it. I know it’s there, I just need to keep looking.
I’ve been thinking about all of this for a while, and after last week’s post sharing a collection of photographs I made a few years ago, now seems like the right time to talk about it. Looking back at that work has inspired me. I’m still not at the place where I want to prioritize street photography, or go out of my way to make it happen, but I am getting there. Festival season is coming up, and fingers crossed by then I will have a little bit of a revival of my own.