I just walked through the door a couple hours ago, sifted through the pile of mail and stuff that builds up over a 5 week+ absence. Tomorrow I’m on a plane again. Feeling a little rough around the edges!
The images above and below are two I shot in Kathmandu while feeling I was having a hard time seeing things. The man in the top image was blind and sat there each morning, statue-like, hoping for alms. The contrast between being both unseeing and unseen struck me. This man kept me conscious of people being unseen, and it might have been that that made me both angry and saddened by the tourists and photographers I saw on this trip.
We teach our students to engage people wherever possible, to create images that have some context of relationship, and to give subjects the chance to say “No.” I think this is just basic respect and the recognition that others are no less human for the fact that they live elsewhere or wear different clothes. So why do I see over and over and over and over again the tourists with cameras who act like they’re at the zoo? I see it so often it makes me furious. They walk around, checking things off on their mental checklist as though to merely have looked at it is to have experienced it. They have vacant eyes, raise cameras at people without ever really seeing them, and they move on without so much as a handshake, a cup of chai, or a Namaste. Hell, not even a nod or eye contact. It’s not even the zoo, it’s worse. At least people interact with the monkeys.
Perhaps that’s the reason I shot so little work with people, I think I’m just way more sensitive to the issue right now. But man, some days my camera made me very uncomfortable on this trip. Sometimes it stops us from really seeing people, really enjoying a place.
When I expressed my difficulties on this trip, a number of wise voices reminded me to take a step back and just relax. Great advice. We all photograph for different reasons, but I want my photography to enhance my life, not to be a substitute for it. And I want my images to be more than a record of what was there, but what I experienced and truly saw.
Anyways, I’m rambling. I wanted to drop a line and say hello, let y’all know I’m home. A little ragged, but man is it nice to be home again, if only briefly. In the past I’ve posted things that my jet-lag-addled brain has come up with and it’s always been a bad idea, so I’m stopping now. Glad to be home, thank you all for the kind words and concerned emails.