I was a freelance photojournalist my entire working life, at least up to 10 years ago. At first it was bad pay but good stories. Then it became bad pay for vacuous stories.
I come from labor and when I was offered a yearly freelance contract with a labor/management partnership I jumped. It was a chance to return to my roots and see change from the inside. The organizational structure was loose and thoughtful stories were possible.
Like all gigs, there were ups and downs to the work. For a number of years the ups dominated. But as time went on that changed. The gig became one uninteresting straight corporate PR job after another. It was painfully obvious that my journalistic and story telling skills were dying.
In October 2014 I let the client know it would be my last quarter. I began to think about a new project/s to do. (“Take a Picture, Tell a Story” continues, and will continue) and two things became clear:
1) Indeed what limited journalist and story telling strengths I had, had declined and were barely surviving.
2) I had truly become a “professional” photographer: making good, useful images in any situation, they were safe, risk free and soulless. They never asked to be “touched”. The images didn’t speak, let alone sing.
I needed to relearn how to take photographs that spoke, that demanded touching. I needed to relearn to think, to see implications and connections, to investigate.
January 2015 rolled around with no work in sight, and no ideas for a project. I put off trying to devise one and hit the streets with the intention to rediscover, and relearn how to create images and tell stories.
It’s 8 months in. There have been more frustrations than success. And still no real project has reared its head. There has been progress here and there. An occasional shot that at least whispers, and a reminder here and there that my take on stories/projects is often a bit askew from what others see.
With nothing on the horizon finished and ready to post, I am instead turning the opening page of TAPTAS into a “work in progress” and invite folks to come along for the ride.
16 August 2015