I’ve lived in Seattle since November 25th 2004, and in that time I have seen some slow changes, lost touch with a lot of people who moved on, disappeared left town etc. It’s really not until 2013 that the physical changes happened in the city that I could start to think I was living in a dynamic place.
I came to the US with an expectations of grandeur.
I was really surprised when I got to New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and DC and was hit in the face with the fact that these were aging cities, and the sense that the people living there, really didn’t have much actual control or say over anything that went on, because democracy got in the way. Id assumed the US was bright shiny and new.
As a European, I had always grown up with places that were maintained and there was a real sense of local pride and everyone was involved in it.
Over the years and traveling around, I’ve seen enough of it to tell me that this country is definitely a continent in decline. A place strangled by conservative values, and disregard for everything except money.
The US is definitely not a place I want to grow old in, and yet, I don’t know where else there is now that hasn’t adopted the same capitalistic values, and with that the utterly destructive nature of that which is held in high regard: individualism.
In sorry to say that it’s only now, 25 years into my career, that I am becoming aware of Ernst Haas. The publicly available repertoire of the man’s photography is immense. His philosophies of remaining independent and never adhering to a dedicated style are self evident.
A quote from the Ernst Haas Estate website affirms to me, now 25 years on, that my personal belief and instinct were correct all along;
“Still, I don’t want to declare there are no highways of fruitful directions. In learning there are. Follow them, use them and forget them. Don’t park. Highways will get you there, but I tell you, don’t ever try to arrive. Arrival is the death of inspiration. Beware of direct inspiration. It leads too quickly to repititions of what inspired you. Beware of too much taste as it leads to sterility. Refine your senses through the great masters of music, painting, and poetry. In short, try indirect inspirations, and everything will come by itself.”
Be aware of forward inspiration, but reverse-engineer everything, think backwards and look for the defining characteristics and recurring foundations in everything. Everything else is just dressing.
“…the act of thinking thoroughly through a scene and preempting a moment to capture it, comes with experience. The experience shows when is the right moment to take the shot. Because the shot is a legacy of that decision…”
This week and the last ten days, has been completely mind blowing and intense.
In January I heard that a magnum photographer was coming to town to do a masterclass ‘Finding your vision’. Im sure that means different things to different people, but for me, its a chance to soak up some much needed impartial and respected advice regarding how to edit a large body of work, and from there hopefully be capable of seeing differently when it comes time behind the camera. I want either to learn how to see differently or verification that the way i see, and how I see based on all the variables of my lifes influences come together to make my mind work the way it does, function while moving forward with a camera.
I spent the last 3 months reading books about how to understand photography and its functionality and its place and a lot of art theory comes into that. Im trying to educate myself academically in something that I have only ever had a practical knowledge of previously.
Tha last week was going through 15,871 images I made in the 6 months I was in India. Literally every waking hour, I was sifting through the entirety of that event. In 7 days I relived my time in India. Literally.
The aim was to come up with 120 images of which a small number will emerge as being the best. What best means, I am yet to learn.