On Photography

I am a compulsive photo documentarian, the extent to which I rarely show on here. If you know me in real life though, then you know that it’s an intrinsic part of who I am, and a big part of how I see and interpret the world around me. I have been taking photographs like this since I was a kid.

I remember finding the photography books in the library across the street from my house and the images were so striking, so moving. I would photocopy these images and tack them to my own wall – documentary style black and white pictures of street scenes and people. In fashion magazines it was the portraiture that I was drawn to.

I would take my film to be developed at the second floor shop down the street and like magic I would wait and see what came of those shots. I learned about different types of film processing. My first job was at a one-hour photo shop. I would see professional photographers and think what a magical and illusive job that must be. I would drive into the countryside and take pictures of fields and tractors and textures. I would stick my lens in the face of everyone I knew.

Funny enough, many of my friends went to school for photography, one even used a picture that I had taken on his camera in his portfolio. I wasn’t sure how this made me feel. Anyway, I never got the technical learning skills. Instead of going to school for photography, I went for graphic and web design because it felt more practical, it felt like something I could get a job in. It is ironic that I work as a photo stylist and do so much photography now considering that but I think it is that same internal flame that never went out and the desire to keep doing it, practicing it, and just an innate need to photograph that took me from here to there. I am still learning and refining everyday. It never gets old.

Everyday I am taking photos, when I see the light just so, or an expression on a person’s face, or an environment that moves me I take a picture and when on the rare occasion that I don’t have a camera on me, I feel regretful that I’ve missed that moment and instinctively bring my hands up to “frame the shot”, a little salute to what could be. This is a long essay to say that maybe I will share more here, and I’ve probably said it before but the sheer quantity is staggering and I have always struggled with the idea of things not having a purpose, for frivolity or marks or observation that is shown to others without clear intent. I also take a lot of personal shots of people and friends and family and those feel private but beautiful. But, I also recognize that by hoarding many of these images it’s not really inspiring anyone else but myself. So I’ll try to share more here for no other purpose than to possibly inspire, to possibly offer up my point of view, to just “put it out there”, because really, why not?

April 23, 2020 by Michelle Smith
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