Friday, November 18, 2011

On debris

Jessica Todd Harper legitimizes my attraction to what she calls, "domestic debris". While some clients seem hesitant to allow this debris to be part of their family photography I ask, why not? Domestic debris sweetens with time. Evidence of this rests in the nostalgia that sweeps over us when we see photos of Christmas morning or birthday parties from the past. These photos are rarely formal and they fill the air with words like, "that nightgown!" "that wrapping paper Mom used!" "remember that awful couch?".

The fact is this- things are a part of us. What we choose to surround ourselves with and invite into our lives build the memories of our home life. The inanimate should be honored tastefully and casually, yet deliberately, through the increasingly accessible medium of photography.

If you have a deceased parent, spouse, or child these truths are second nature. Do you/will you cherish big formal posed photo or the casual captures of a life you actually lived filled with evidence of that life? I am, quite obviously attracted to the later but in no way do I devalue the former.

As a photographer I know that allowing this experience, and benefitting from the photos it yields, requires a certain vulnerability and aesthetic that not all clients will be attracted. But I'm attracted to it and my work has, and will, continue to move in this direction. Great portraits, as with all great art, fleurishes under the strain of struggle and personal (or in this case collective) vulnerability.

Take photos, especially photos of your seemingly imperfect reality and then wait for time to step in and add a sheen of nostalgia and history to the photo for they will indeed.