I write a lot about making stuff. I'd like to think that this obsession with creating is something that is ingrained in me, that it is something that I just have to do, like breathing, eating or sleeping.
Breathe, eat, sleep, create.
I think that developing these habits has been a huge net positive for my life as a whole. It has helped me find the great friends that I have, focused my thoughts and feelings when I needed it most and lit me a path towards being a better person. There can be no doubt that it has had a profound impact on the person I am today. But maybe, just maybe, there's something about me that isn't better off for all of this.
I'm the photographer.
Unsurprisingly, I had this realisation while I was taking photos. It turns out that I'm quite often the one holding the camera at different events. And so it struck me recently that maybe being the photographer is more than something I volunteer to do because I love to take photos. Maybe I take my camera with me because it's who I am.
If you were to look through my photo library, you would find that I'm in virtually none of them, and that's the way I've always wanted it to be. I take photos to show people the world through my eyes, to tell my stories and ultimately to create something where there wasn't anything before. I never put that much value in standing and smiling in front of places, objects or people. I just never felt there was much of a story in shots like that.
But what shots like that do achieve is to take one moment - a person in a place at a specific time - and freeze it forever in one flash of self-awareness. It says to the universe that this moment is significant. It's a conscious decision to place yourself at the centre of everything for one instant, and I don't really do that very often.
Each time I open the shutter, I'm looking to show you something new. Here's what I saw. Here's what happened. I want you to feel what I felt when I saw these things, but I don't want you to be thinking about me at all. I want to be the conduit for something far more important: the story. I've always said that I've been far more comfortable behind the lens than in front of it. Perhaps that's because I feel better when I can control the message and tell the story the way I think it should be told.
The photographer is the observer. They are the analyst. They are there to document proceedings, not to direct or influence them. They maintain critical distance, staying out of the fray wherever possible. It is this separation that I sometimes struggle with. Events do not simply exist to be recorded; they are there to be engaged with and to be challenged by. Ultimately, very little can be achieved by documentation for documentation's sake. Choosing to disconnect from reality simply to protect oneself from the consequences of real things that happen in the lives of others is a cop-out. There have been many times where I have been the photographer, more often without the camera in my hands than with it. I will never stop taking photos, because it's part of who am I and it brings me great joy. But I must remember that when I put the camera back into the bag, I must no longer be that person.