As I drove cross-country through California I was reminded just how similar much of the U.S. is to various parts of Europe. Geographically speaking that is. My photo trips through the US are often accompanied by the yearning to be touring Europe instead of the US. For a long time I’ve never quite understood why. Today I think I’ve come to terms with my own motivation.
Every photographer has a unique sense of image – their creative eye. I have always realized that much of my work is about small details that make something uniquely itself. And while I can find images anywhere, the idea of working for a short time among people or a geography that recognizes itself as unique is always challenging to me. Take France for instance, each Departmente is not only unique, but each also takes great pride in just how unique it is and continuously celebrates it’s heritage in speech, in geography, in dress, in food, in architecture.
When I travel the US there are obvious geographical differences. But much of the rest of our culture is more homogenous than in other countries I’ve visited. National food chains result in a homogenous diet, National television and job mobility have huge influences in the way we form our words and sentences. Fashion is available in the same cut and style nationwide, and various retail establishments either look like every other store of their brand, or every other retail store designed in the same year. And it’s why I find myself spending less and less time photographing buildings and more time photographing people and nature.
I guess I’m constantly amazed at how important individuality is to me. I’m a maverick in my own right — certainly any of the models who have posed for me know that I am by nature a hermit. But I also VALUE the unique in people and nature.
When I first began doing bodyscape shoots I fretted about using makeup artists. So many other photographers did and I didn’t want to. And I realized that the effect of makeup was to create fantasy; but that my work wasn’t about fantasy. I wanted to show those things that make my models unique — however insignificant the model may have thought them initially, or mundane. And I realize that has been my mode of operation all along — something I just never paid specific attention to.
And that brings me to Arcata CA, and the end of the long drive West. There were a thousand places I might have stopped to create images — but then it would take the entire allotted time to get here and I’d have no time to shoot her – so I just went boogety, boogety, boogety all the way out here — with that short stopover to see Fred.
So, tomorrow, off to work…