I November 2014, I was asked to speak to the camera club in my town. The following is the talk i gave, less the visual references.
Many thanks to the Bridport Camera Club for inviting me.
•Maybe I have enticed you with the question, why photograph? Clearly I can only explain why I photograph…but i hope the explanation of my search may have some meaning for your photographic work.
•Before I really begin I want to tell you a story. When I was about 12, I saw the photographs of W Eugene Smith in a life Magazine article about the Pacific War.
At that moment I decided I wanted to be a photojournalist. I imagined I could rove the world revealing the bad things and in so doing, have them acknowledged and changed by a morally outraged public. Well, I was 12 and a child but I have never lost the memory of that.
•Further, because of the circumstances of my childhood and because I was taught that we Americans were the good guys, I, along with some of my generation, couldn’t accept we were making war on a peasant culture half way around the world, nor that black Americans were so ill-treated, nor could many of us stomach that our president was suspiciously murdered, and then his brother, and then Malcolm X and Martin Luther King … so I became an activist in the anti-Vietnam war movement and took part in the civil rights struggles and later, in the UK, I fought against and photographed the National Front and bore witness to the problems of unemployment.
•I have had a long career specialising in several areas of image making, but my life in photography started with a photograph I made in the Detroit farmers market when I was about 15.
I want to read you a description of this photograph (the one at the top of this blog)…
For most of my picture-making career I preferred fast shutter speeds, long lenses and wide apertures, a technique which isolates and freezes the subject against an out of focus background. This helps to point out the subject in an otherwise random and uncaring world.
Behind the woman is another woman, reacting to her own ordering of the day. The main woman, seems exhausted, starring without interest or hostility towards the camera’s lens and therefore towards me. The woman was neither giving of herself nor holding back. The ambiguity seemed innocent.
In the moment of photographing her, i learned that I could tiptoe into people’s souls, achieving an unconscious bond of confidence. It was then i decided that in exchange for their trust i was responsible to honour the wellbeing of those i photographed. This allegiance would lead me into conflict with editors.
The woman had been silent as many other people i would come to photograph with pain in their eyes, whose voices had been STILLED by frustration, fear or simply the exhaustion of work, child rearing or poverty.
I hoped i could help them to have a presence in history, to bring to other’s attention their quiet dignity and the oppressive plight of their lives. But how naïve I was.”
•What followed after high school, film school and university was working in New York City for three years. And although I had no idea what I was doing, not knowing I should have become an assistant, I began looking for freelance work. The second day there I landed my first commission.
I had some success and within 2 years I had a studio and a few decent contracts … including, as I learned to my horror, with the mafia.
But I left and lived in Ibiza for 6 months in the late sixties, asking myself ‘why photograph’ and ‘What did I really want to photograph’? This was before Ibiza was overrun by hordes of young Europeans sowing seeds and getting drunk. It was virtually an untouched island, living off of it’s agriculture, which, with its poverty, was rooted into the landscape’s red earth.
Many days I went out with my Hasselblad and often established a frame and waited for something to happen. When the child appeared, demure and perhaps worried about what I was doing, she moved into the shadows to protect herself from me or perhaps from the sun. At the moment when I felt everything had converged in the frame I exposed one negative.
There was nothing knowingly rational about releasing the shutter at that moment, other than my training in picture making whispering, ‘NOW, this has some meaning somehow in your life’.
Why then, why there? Why bother? Another random image that few would appreciate and no one would want to purchase. But the ‘why’ was answered with: 'Because, if nothing else, I saw beauty in the frame, in the textures and in the light'.
•For me, light has always been and still is an active character in my images. Often I reject a picture, even while the subject may be good, because the light is appalling and the look of the picture cannot be saved, despite Photoshop.
Still today, I am thrilled by a broad soft window light illuminating a subject,or a harder light in dim circumstances creating the deep moulding of the Florentine Renaissance painters,
or the challenge of making something out of the confused and unresolved light of high ceiling florescence mixed with dim distant cloudy sky light, or a torch illuminating the face of our mayor.
Light is quiet; photographs are quiet. You have to go to them; unlike film or TV, which come to you.
•A photograph, in its most basic form, represents a huge reduction in the 1 million to 1 illumination range the human eye can see, to 1000 (or so) to 1….meaning that a photograph renders about 1/10th of the visible spectrum.
Photography transforms a living and breathing three dimensional kinetic world into a two dimensional frozen world. In these ways, it is from the outset, an abstraction of sorts, incapable of rendering the world factually. At best it is a facsimile.
But there is another thought: a photograph gives creditability to the deep history we live within … in this case an ancient village, an ancient civilization, an ancient people and it was then General Franco’s last prison island for his Republican enemies from the Spanish Civil War.
•Photographs are not only about fact, nor only about seeing, but also feeling … If I don’t feel for my subjects, how can I help my viewer respond to them?
•So there I was, young, unhappily married, running out of money, and asking the question that has never gone away, but has only changed like a shape-shifter all my life. WHY PHOTOGRAPH?
The psychoanalyst Karl Jung said, “To discover one’s self, one must be willing to ask questions” … one must be truly curious. He said, the first question must be, “What is the first question I must ask”, hence: ‘why photograph’?
•In the process of answering this, I begin to realize what there is to photograph. It is for everyone to answer for themselves. But It is a question worth asking because it leads you to recognize what you care about and therefore what themes and content you may wish to be involved in.
For me it was partly a romance. I wished to escape my background and to encounter a less constrained life. But it became more than that … I found the harsh commercial world of New York interesting and challenging to try and make my way through, but to me, the people were hollow and the pictures were meaningless….
•I am going to jump forward to last year for a moment: I was teaching an alienated, unemployed young man. At first his antagonism and depression blocked his curiosity and his willingness to engage. As we worked together he began to realise that his state of being was okay to talk about and that I considered it as important and as central to what he was feeling about life as did he, and he began to understand that to utilise these harsh emotions to create a project, was valid.
As he explained the yet unmade film to other young people, and then when it was shown publicly, he saw that others applauded it because it expressed something of their own lives. He had come to see that the usefulness of his labours was that it allowed others to feel that they were not odd or crazy, nor alone. His work crossed a bridge from his inner being to others, joined as they were in a generation’s recognition of how their society was failing them.
•So there in Ibiza, I decided that I must devote myself to my first love – to photojournalism.
I came to England, showed my portfolio and began to get work from the Telegraph, the Times, and especially Nova Magazine amongst others.
•During the pollicised 1970’s, Britain was in turmoil: poverty, strikes, racism implied and actual; people struggling for knowledge and dignity; run down towns, anger…the sick old man of Europe as it was called… but above all there was unhappiness.
•I want to short fuse something that may brew in some of your hearts by telling a quick story. Some of the images (I showed during the talk) are from a set of books I conceived, photographed and co-authored called the PEOPLE WORKING SERIES, which won Britain’s first award for non-racist children’s book publishing.
After the little ceremony for the award, a male pro-feminist judge barked at me that he was disappointed with the books because I had not shown women working in their houses. I pointed out that all the books were about industry and while I was sympathetic to the need for acknowledging the work of women maintaining the home and bringing up children -that, along with religion, militarism, mental illness and a 1001 other things was not the subject of these slim volumes. What am I saying? That of course during that agitated period there were scenes of gaiety and pleasure, but I was not photographing all of life, only what turned out to be the demise of the British industrial working class.
•Soon after I began to be commissioned to shoot portraits for the Radio Times and for other magazines and Penguin Books. Within all of these assignments I discovered many things about making pictures and telling stories. These things became precious to me; I discovered them through hard work, curiosity, living in a constant state of self-criticism, living with the absurd notion of achieving perfection, and by walking through too many shivery windswept desolate northern towns searching for THE shot - looking for the things that made sense and would tell the story of a dreaming boxer, unemployment, racial oppression and prejudice, the poverty of old age, the arrogance of rock musicians, the pitfalls of parliamentary pairing, life along the Thames, the condition of the unions during rising unemployment … constantly searching for meaningful cityscapes, signs, graffiti, for revealing private moments and always faces that say so much.
•I don’t believe that anything I shoot is arbitrary although at times it is an unconscious response to things. But none of these are in any way objective. Photojournalism, just as portraits, landscapes and most picture making is about waiting, appraising, seeing and grasping the developing moment before it consummates ... if you are only aware of it once it has happened it is clearly too late.
Cartier-Bresson, the famous French photographer, spoke of what he called the ‘decisive moment’. He said:"To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms, which give that event its proper expression.”
I want to point out that there is another way of imagining and capturing time. Paul Strand, the American photographer and teacher, with his carefully composed large format pictures of people from around the world, showed that a photograph did not have to be about the instant, but rather about how a person lives at any moment as the sum of their history, culture and personal experiences. This is a different way of thinking.
•For me, I always try to find a meaningful moment - that is to say, a meaningful narrative which alludes to other meanings and to make certain that the physical thing or action is in harmony with the look of the picture.
•I want to say a few things about the ‘meaningful moment’ in the good picture:
The first is about the frame itself. There is a story of a student showing a print to Paul Strand. The young photographer was proud of his picture, and asked Strand why he didn’t like it. Strand said that the bright, out of focus form at the bottom of the frame was intrusive and distracting. The young photographer said that it just happened as he released the shutter, but was the central subject not interesting? Strand explained that the intrusive element was a part of the picture and it destroyed the composition. When the young photographer persisted, Strand said he would weep for the young man but the picture was still not good.
Tough love perhaps but the point was revealing of Strand’s fervent belief that an excellent photograph was not only about the subject matter, but as well a visual statement of everything in the frame. Strand taught me that form, tonality and colour must have equal weight with the content.
•If one is preoccupied with content, without consideration for form, one is a reporter. If one is preoccupied with form without regard for content, one is a formalist. A formalist is concerned with the artfulness of things devoid of their meaning to the surrounding human condition. It can be argued that formalism is a retreat from the world and serves the status quo rather than what I believe the role of art in troubled times must be: a carrier of our burdens, and an effort to reclaim our humanity, and to give shape to our dreams for a better world.
•When I ask ‘why photograph?’ I remember that my only worthwhile content and themes are discovered in the middle of the night. I know this is dark view, but the point I’m making is that in this troubled world I feel responsible to address these questions of our shared lives.
These ideas: capturing time, framing the image, balancing content with form, point to the way I look at and photograph things.
It is this forethought that creates a point of view that cannot help but to be impassioned, caring, and committed. The question for a professional photographer, especially a news reporter or a photojournalist, is at one point do you cease being a non-participating observer and become a participant? At what point in a cycle of injustice or violence do you cease being the witness or the messenger and become an advocate? Complicated questions.
The second things is this: many images are dross because of a lack of concentration which marks most snaps; because many people think the camera will do it for them; because now, with the magic of digital editing, many are enamoured with the candyfloss of technique and because people have not questioned why they are making pictures.
•The simplest snapshot reveals this. If your sister’s head is cropped off by the frame’s edge, the snap is a failure. As a memory, it is not consummated. It may be worth a laugh but will have little value in the family photo album and it is doubtful that it will be carried in your mother’s wallet.
•Now I want to explain something I believe is central to my picture making. It is about presence … my presence in the picture making process from inception to its delivery to an audience. The more time spent thinking, time spent photographing, time spent editing and printing, time spent writing captions or texts, putting together a portfolio or photo essay on paper or on-line, and the more time i spend on designing the delivery format, the more of my presence will be in the work and the richer it will be.
To a degree, it is ‘presence’ that defines the difference between a devoted photographer’s work and an amateur’s work who is not actually devoted to TRUTH-telling.
•What I have encountered and studied, including all the painters and photographers, have become a part of me. These things provide references, modes of picture making, and stimulate ways of looking and seeing and then photographing.
I don’t want you to think that I wait for the references to a painting style, but there are three points here.
The first is that all of us are composed of memory,knowledge and therefore cultural references and emotions evoked by colours, odours, sounds and so on.
The second is that the more one is conscious of these, the richer your work becomes because all of your work, even instinctual moments feed off of something … that something is the sum of your knowledge, experience and culture … that something that says NOW, this is the moment.
The third point is that if I layout the pictures on their own, or combine them with captions or a text, I’ll be making choices about how I tell the story … and all of these choices are subjective. Just as they are when an art director, layout artist or editor makes choices.
•This asks the question: What is truth? We all know that it is different for most people
… so truth is relative. My relationship with my subjective inner world and the objective, measureable outer world is that I always hope that my subjective point of view will closely approximate objective reality. In that search, the closer I approach the objective reality, the closer I am to the truth … but it is still relative.
•While working for The Times or whomsoever, I continually found that they would choose the wrong picture to tell the story,that they would emphasise the most unseemly, that they would twist and turn the material to tell their version of a reality that they only had a glimpse of through my pictures while claiming they had the right TO, to what? To tell their publisher’s version of the social, political and economic truth as they wish it to be.
•So you see, those claiming objectivity are ignorant of all the processes or claiming for themselves or for their editors and publishers a degree of omniscient truth that does not exist in the real world of light and lenses or in digital or ink based transmissions. There is always mediation … as the transformation of the real thing (say a tea dance) into another thing (say a photograph in a magazine) is a mediation. That is why it is called ‘the media’.
John Berger, the British art critic/novelist and painter wrote: (W Eugene) Smith fought against his editors because he saw “a whole world view (Smith's) being substituted by another world view. (the editor's)”
•By the mid 1970s I had been living here for 5 years, producing projects and at that point I entered a crisis … my dream, since the age of 12, was to join Magnum, the home of committed photojournalists set up by Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Capa, Chim Seymore and George Rogers.
My large and controversial photo-essay on Life in Brixton was published in Nova magazine. After publication, I was invited to dinner with Magnum's agents in London, but it didn’t go well, as they lectured me about Magnum photographers had no opinions, somehow they had obtained the wisdom of JOB and the equanimity of Buddha without asking themselves what they thought and felt about the world around them. I protested that was impossible, and furthermore that Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa were committed socialists who set up the agency as a collective, but to no avail. The very same week, the radical newspaper I had been supplying free pictures to for several years suddenly decided an American could not really be an egalitarian, so I had to be a CIA agent. Within 5 days, I was barred from Magnum for being on the left and barred from the radical paper for being on the right.
•My only allies were writers, poets, artists and photographers usually long gone … but their work gave me guidance. Milan Kundera, who is still alive, wrote in his novel THE BOOK OF LAUGHTER AND FORGETTING, “The struggle of man against power, is the struggle of memory against forgetting”.
I always hope that my photographs serve as memory because it is through memory we know our past, and from our past we learn how we have come to be who we are, and then we may remember to whom or what we owe a debt of gratitude and where we may wish to go.
I needed to remember that the photograph does not reveal the structures or power and the narrative of history but reveals the existences of things, people, emotions, places and time captured. Good photography does not report on history so much as it researches existence.
•Roots…I needed to re-examine my roots. The west coast American photographer Edward Weston had shown me that the picture had to be beautiful. Paul Strand had shown me, in his wonderful, visually lucid books from Nigeria, The Shetlands, France, Italy and other places that we are all one, that there is indeed nobility to be witnessed and offered to others. And Eugene Smith showed me that out of the shadows there was to be found, not only moments of humanity, but one’s own redemption, perhaps in the discovery of the light, or perhaps being the messenger of it.
For me there was not and still isn’t much difference between what my work is and who I am.
And Hemingway, who wrote in The Old Man And The Sea said: “Even with the worst tribulations and setbacks a man’s behaviour can change defeat into victory and give meaning to his life.“
The thing I discovered in Hemingway is this: that a particular struggle, for instance a group of young people’s hatred of another ethnic group or, in the case of THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, a mere fight with a fish may be turned into a trial of human endurance or of human goodness.
That is an example of how subject matter becomes a metaphor for much more in life. It is the same with a photo essay.
•So there I was, rejected, depressed and staggered by the twin blow … I decided that from then on I would only self-assign documentary work for what were meaningful stories to me and no longer accept commissions from the mainstream media … professionally I was turning my back on them. So what was I to do to make a living?
•What to do? I went to an extreme. In photojournalism, at least in that period, one photographed in all sorts of poor, dark, unresolved lighting conditions, so I decided to work in a studio where there would be no light until I turned one on.
I put down my Leica and began to use a 10 x 8 plate camera and although the world trips over itself with things to be photographed: textures, patterns, colours and inventions, dreams of these apart and together, the tools of the trades, artisans and factories, cities and celebrations and festivals and there is the sea and the air and fairs, moonlight, flowers, leaves and stones, insects, fans berries and melons, shellfish and coloured wire; a chair, a calliper, an old jug, a tin can … in the studio there is nothing until you place something in front of the camera.
There I was, thinking I would be able to be innocent in what I did or at least I would not break my bond to those I photographed … little did I know.
•I began to work for publishers, shooting book covers for thrillers and historical novels, which meant creating the setting, styling and lighting the images and sometimes constructing sets.
I learned how to use Meyerhold’s biomechanical directing to get a bored model to point like a princess. I learned how to be ‘commercial’ and made hundreds of these covers for every major publisher in town. I was in demand again.
I was asked to shoot more and more still life images and knowing I could not survive as a general photographer. I began to realise I would have to specialise. Although I resisted I was forced to make a decision: I found fashion and beauty facile, consumer objects undesirable, and cars of zero interest; but I loved the sharing and beauty of food, the 7 senses of food growing, harvesting, being prepared and eaten. So food it was that I specialised it.
My increasing knowledge of how to photograph food, how to light it and handle it on set led to a career in advertising because I had by chance created a new style that liberated still life from the often used white or black curved backgrounds.
On free days, I would shoot something for myself, show it to one of the magazine art directors I regularly worked for as a pitch to illustrate one of their articles, and almost always an advertising agency would approach me to shoot a campaign for one of their clients based upon the initial experiment.
I began to use very big close-ups for some editorial commissions, which led to yet more advertising work. Eventually I was asked to direct commercials, which were attached to the advertising stills campaigns I was shooting.
•By the late 1990’s I had shot about 800 or so commercials, having sat in on endless pre production meetings, having listened to how the client wanted the agency to exaggerate their products, to associate their salt, sugar, transfat laden foods with clear blue skies and purity … to mislead the public. So much for my innocence.
I remember one day thinking that I could not live a moral life in an immoral world. But I also thought that I wanted nothing to do with living a rationalised life, one that would try to excuse me from doing what I knew to be wrong. I knew that I had to admit to the wrong-doing rather than bury it.
I would have to listen to the agency tell me how this script was unique - variations of which I had seen tens of times, because food commercials were very conservative and samey… how it was very important to the agency and the client and if I did well I would receive many commissions.
Eventually I became ill. I knew I had decisions to make. I began to look for another way to work.
I could then truly say, that virtually anything I had done of any social value had little or no financial value, and the money I had earned from the commercial world was for work destined for dust bin of our bling bling culture.
And so I decided to return again, faithless as I had been, to my first love, documentary, but using all my newly acquired skills as a film-maker.
Although I disdained commercials, they taught me about precision and rhythms in storytelling, of using each scene to move the story forward, about clarity in the structures of storytelling and editing. Overall, the limitations of the 15, 30 or 45 seconds one had helped me to learn how to unite all the individual film elements to work seamlessly together: atmos tracks, spot sound effects, the use of music and white noises; the editing of one frame’s composition and colour against the next, and the clarity needed from an actors movements: fixed points, stillness and truthfulness. These things became valuable when making documentaries.
•For a few moments I what to stray into something that has been implied in much of what I have said but as yet has gone unstated. I’m talking about stills now –
Life is too rich, multi-layered and complex to be able to elaborate it clearly in one image. It is possible that, upon a rare occasion, one happens to create an articulate single image, but a group of images helps with storytelling, which is the fashioning of a metaphor (the meaning implied within the image) and further – stories help engage the audience. Immediately when you put one picture next to another, the viewer imagines a narrative.
•This joins the questions ‘WHY PHOTOGRAPH with WHAT TO PHOTOGRAPH. If you don’t create a story of your life - a record of your perceptions, loves and woes - who will? Your own story is as precious as the next person’s. The telling of the story engages you with finding just what your story is. This may help to reintegrate a personality that’s been alienated by life. It is a healing process.
And why might it be meaningful to the rest of us? Because, as in the earlier tale of the alienated young man, it will be a human story and one that may help others find a new solution to their life’s problems, or at least allow them to recognize that their problems are shared and therefore that they are not alone. This is one way in which art and beauty provide comfort to others; this is why it is important and why participating within creative practice is valid and valuable.
There was an influential group of historians (the Annales School) who emphasized the importance of social history – a history based on how people lived rather than in the diplomatic or military history of each period. In this it showed the importance of the lives of the people over the lives of the rich and famous.
In revealing your own thoughts and concerns, you help to give insights into yours and others needs and wants at your moment in history. This, in itself, is valuable as well as how it helps others to come to terms with their own lives.
•Now, returning to what I was to do, I discussed this with my wife. One thing we realised was that there were very few goodtime stories told … and so I decided to use the knowledge I had gained in working with chefs, food stylists, home economists and all the reading I had done to create a series called Savouring the World. This forced my wife and I to eat our way around the globe making 13 films in 13 countries. It sold to about 30 countries.
Sadly, While on our journey we realised that many people, whether in Kerala, Vietnam or New Orleans, were living in fear, the fear that their livelihoods, customs and traditions were under threat and perhaps on the verge of disappearing all together.
So when I came back, and before I set off on research for what was to become Savouring Europe, I began to read things I had previously not encountered and began to hear about the globalization of cultures and economies. I know this may seem obvious now, but 14 years ago it was not that clear a problem.
The new series, Savouring Europe, has within it, not only the affirming stories, but also they show how people were beginning to acknowledge and resist the arbitrary changes of globalization.
Because these films mentioned how fast food chains and supermarket incursions destroyed local food traditions and almost immediately assaulted people’s health, the series was not seen to be suitable by many sponsors and we initially sold to only 10 countries.
I want to give my wife a credit here. Part way through filming this second series I said to her, ‘this is not going to sell because of its dark truths’, and Tina said,“I know, but we have no choice.”
•Finally, liking to use close ups, often of faces, I recognised the fear I had witnessed earlier
in the eyes of the working and unemployed people of the 1970’s. From those thoughts came my HOME exhibition which carries an ironic name.
Earlier I had witnessed the destruction of industries and jobs, but also the destruction of whole communities, neighbourhoods, family life and finally family homes all for spreading the American and Thatcherite neo-liberal dream of globalization, which, as we all can witness today, has impoverished the poor, eviscerated the middle class in America, eradicated Anglo-American industry, and along with that, the mass of blue collar jobs. It has driven down wages and driven up prices, privatised everything from water to laughter, enriched 1% of Americans beyond anything in history, finanicialised your entire life and created mass unhappiness, neurosis, increased suicide rates, and every other undesirable indictor of social degeneration…
And in filming Savouring Europe I had witnessed the destruction of small scale farming and food production, as well as the sweeping away of villages and family owned farms, restaurants and cafes. The realization that I had photographed and filmed two bookends of globalization led to the idea of the HOME exhibition.
After two futile years of trying to get the exhibition placed, Jem Main, then at the Study Gallery of Modern Art in Poole, (southwest England) said ‘yes’ to me. I was so surprised I said, “Jem, I need to get something clear, because I work in film, I know that yes means maybe or most often no.” He smiled patiently and said ‘yes means yes’.
•Serious photography requires serious engagement, or rather taking your engagement with the medium seriously and it is different from being a snap shooter or a commercial professional.
I understand many people are happy enough to produce another portrait – nude –pet – travel – landscape, but for those who desire more, who wish to express their deepest concerns and emotions, you need to go on a journey of questioning and self-discovery.
Prettiness and entertainment, I’ll call them visual decorations, while useful in some ways, are separate issues. The only affecting beauty we can create emerges out of truths that are central to the lives we lead. This may seem arbitrary, but to my way of thinking, it is the photographer’s job to continually plumb the depths of her own soul and the reality around her to find what is important to photograph and it is in these that beauty will be found and held onto.
If you tell these tales using an appropriate style and do it well, you will have an audience because you will be sharing your humanity with them.
•And so where am I now? I have in recent years made a number of documentaries mostly with Tina producing, and always self-financed unless Tina is able to raise some funds somehow. We are lucky when we break even. Some have won awards, some have been shown at places like the Davos World Economic Forum and in Parliament, some have been useful for other charities and individuals, some have sold here and there.
As time goes on, the financial problems grow and it becomes harder to self-finance while upgrading equipment and paying for the travel and the help we need on the ground.
I have been making films about art and culture – one about the music of Sevdah in Bosnia, another for the Crafts Council about John Makepeace, the local designer of furniture, one for the composer Graham Treacher, and I have been documenting projects for Tina’s work in several countries.
I am working on the HOME IN BRIDPORT PROJECT and the DEMOCRACY PROJECT; and on another long photo-essay called Levels of Intimacy. I have just finished two books about photography to be sold only on-line as PDF’S and am beginning a new website about photography, and I have just finished a film for Al Jezeera called Savouring Bosnia.
I have just begun a new film about a local painter, Ricky Romain, whose concentration on issues of human rights creates deeply affecting paintings and whose work will be at the BAC in May 2015 along with the film.
After my illness, after seeing how other people struggle around the world and here, I know I am very fortunate and I still want to turn the stones over, and still I want to see the window-light illuminating people dear to me, and still I am curious, and still I want to understand and learn and create, and yet still I ask: Why photograph, and I hope all of you do to.