Taking vs making a photograph
One of the reasons why I photograph is simply because I don’t really understand a whole lot about the world. Standing in the dark among giant mountain peaks can be an eerie experience. Your mind begins to drift - desperately trying to make sense of it all. Fear of the dark and the unknown take over for a brief moment. After a while all becomes calm and your senses appear to heighten
I had put my tripod in the cold river and started photographing. There was a rock falling from up high and water was seeping through nearby cracks. A new alertness arises that somehow feels familiar. It made me think of how we lost something important along the way.
Part of me was getting annoyed with the moon and the incoming clouds. They were not really going to do this photograph much good. I swiftly reminded myself that it was kind of ludicrous to be irritated with the universe. The moonlight was also an opportunity and I could always wake up later that night to see if the conditions had changed.
My mind drifted again. I had to think of a photon leaving our home star - which I found out takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach earth (and can take 100.000 years to reach the surface of the sun) - taking a small detour visiting the moon for a brief moment, only to arrive 1 second later in the lens of a tiny ape like creature. Photographing mountains in the middle of night seems to put things in perspective.
There is a difference between taking a photograph and making a photograph. Taking a photograph has something forceful to it. It is almost as if one steals a moment for personal gain. Making a photograph – in my opinion - is when you are fully engaged with your subject. I still have a lot to learn in that sense. It’s the reason why I live in the mountains, I want to be among them. I want to be part of the subject I enjoy photographing the most. I don’t want to just take the moment and run.
Much can be learned from books in that sense. I would highly recommend ‘The Peregrine’ by J.A Baker – an unknown writer that only wrote one book. In this book the writer almost appears to become his subject. An excerpt:
‘’I found myself crouching over the kill, like a mantling hawk. My eyes turned quickly about, alert for the walking heads of men. Unconsciously I was imitating the movements of a hawk, as in some primitive ritual: the hunter becoming the thing that he hunts. I looked into the wood. In a lair of shadow the peregrine was crouching, watching me, gripping the neck of a dead branch. We live in these days in the open, the same ecstatic fearful life. We shun men.’’ J.A Baker.
I woke up later that night only to find the valley covered in clouds. Clouds with rain. The image I was hoping to make was not going to happen anymore, but that was fine. The trivialities of life had seeped away by the time morning arrived, and it was time to head back to civilization – they make good coffee there I’ve heard.