I am not sure how but I came across the work of Ian Aleksander Adam the other day. His photography is beautiful but what really caught me is that he writes a lot about photography.
He published this blog post of his mother’s letter to him about his photography. I absolutely love my mother, but its true that she may not know me very well, or has a quite altered perception of who I am based on our relationship. So its very interesting to read Ian’s mother’s approach to his work, which he finds surprising and quite opposite to his intention. He writes:
In this response, it’s interesting to think about what comes from her struggles and our relationship and how she applies that to the images I’ve created. Or applies it to her image of me – is it an accurate depiction? I think that a lot more people see me as a goofy guy, not someone dark and broody. Those that know my attitude toward art are familiar with my fondness of visual jokes. Bitterness towards established visual trends is usually dealt with in dark humor, not necessarily dark spirits.
Made me think of my friend, Julian Lass’ work about his mother’s memory. And Jim Goldberg’s approach of having his subjects write on the picture he takes of them. The idea of having others engage with the photography rather than simply be ‘subjects’ is very intriguing. I had thought about doing something along these lines when I was in Almeria but at the time I was too focused on the project I was working on. Something I found interesting was how people wanted to appear in the portraits I took. Often, I gave very little direction because they would already have the perfect spot picked out, or I would have to wait for a bit while they got ready. It would have been so interesting to sit down with them after and talk about the image and the contradictions within and outside of it. Perhaps the next time I go back.
Going back to Ian’s work, he recently wrote an essay for Ahorn Magazine on “Fear and Photography” where he talks about the innate fear of losing precious images and whether we, as photographers, do not really experience moments because we are so busy recording them. He does this interesting exercise with his beginner photography students: he asks them to use up a roll of film (which he gives them) and at the next class they develop the film together only to find that there is absolutely nothing on it. After he gets them to calm down, he gets them to talk about the images and “they learn from each other, they talk about the subject matter they photographed, their feelings of loss, whether the memories of those moments are more or less clear for this experience.” He goes on to talk about how his own lack of fear caused him to go back to film so he could experience excitement again, which is something I completely understand.
I make sure to live in the moment while photographing it, because I don’t know which memory will be more important to me as experienced or archived. And I am scared every time I drop off my film. I cringe when I pick it up and rejoice at the surprises that find me. I fear my mistakes and I embrace and love that fear. Even though I no longer think of uncaptured time as lost, since I know I was there without “proof,” it has helped me appreciate the moments, images of moments, that I have found.
See his website here.
- London, UK, a cool 7 degrees tonight, listening to The Cinematic Orchestra’s “Burn Out”