I’ve been thinking a lot about what photography means to me.
I’ve always believed that everyone can make art. For a long time I wondered what my particular art was – I tried music, writing, photography. In times of particularly poor mental health I believed it might well be nothing at all. I think a lot of the time I was trying to make art so I could say that I did. Simultaneously creating and nullifying. Now I think the notion of having one single art form is ridiculous. You don’t have to be ‘good’ at it. You just have to do it and to love doing it.
Now I’m doing it and loving it and I’ve been thinking about why. I know that now I’m not making things just so I can tell people I am. It’s been six years since I finished my creative writing degree and six years since I sat in the uni cafe not actually writing but considering the time spent studying nonetheless. I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t want to write so I never had to think about why I was doing it. Everything I wrote had two goals: a passing grade and the right to tell people I was writing. My journey into photography was much more organic. I started shooting because I wanted to show people what I was doing all these miles away from home. I wanted something I could do on the way to work. I wanted something to make walking around Tokyo on my own a little more involved. It wasn’t until some time later that I realized, very much opposite to when I wanted to be ‘a writer’, I was a photographer.
Looking back through my photographs the last few weeks I know what it is I want my photography to be. I want it (and everything I make) to be a love letter or a series of love letters. Every picture I take another word in a letter I will write my whole life. A love letter to everything it means to be alive, even as I work out exactly what that is. I want to be able to look at every picture I have and say, ‘yes, here is something I love.’ Yuka, Tokyo, strangers on the street, cereal. I could put them into separate collections. Love letters to different things under different headings. I could just as easily put them in the one box. A love letter to my life.
I am alive. That’s what photography means to me.
Orlando, January 2018