As I'm getting closer to releasing my book, I can't help but think about experiences I've had that have shaped the ultimate "product" of the book.
And when I think of my experience--I think about photography.
Photography was itself an experience; moreover, quite literally, it was the lens of my experience. I lugged around these cumbersome, beautiful things: Leica SL2's, and Pentax 67II's, and tons of actual 35mm film, and spools of 120 and 220 film, and nerdy lens cleaning gear, and a manifestly physical camera manual. Maybe all this gear (especially nonsensical to anyone who grew up snapping away from a cameraphone) slowed me down. But photography was itself a reason to get up earlier. Photography was a reason to stay up later. It was a reason to be patient. And also a reason to be aggressive because the "decisive moment" (a term Cartier-Bresson used) was nothing to be gentle with.
I remember a Vietnam Vet in L.A. absolutely furious at me after I offered him $1 to take his photo. Most of the time I would just snap away. This time I changed my tactic and it got my called a slew of colorful racial epithets. He was belligerent and chased after me in his wheelchair. I made it out unscathed. But unfortunately the photo didn't turn out so good.
Sure, there were awkward moments like that. But photography was such a wonderful reason to pay attention. Yes, the idea is to document things (especially because I was more about "reportage" i.e "first draft of history" stuff and not fine art inclined), but more importantly, it is to notice things--that is what really matters.
Photography helped me because it made me notice. Without photography I mightn't have picked up on things. I am eager to share my book--because I have something to say. Without photography I mightn't have picked up on the things that mattered, all the types of things that have a tendency to serendipitously come together to have meaning and give me cause to have something to say.
Over the coming weeks, I will be releasing some never before seen photos from my archives. And on that note, I give thanks this Thanksgiving to my parents, who facilitated my love of photography beginning at the age of 14. I give thanks to my two photography teachers: (the late) Mr. Laugel and Mr. O'Malley.
Thank you! Stay tuned for many more updates!