Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Day 1: Holiday Thoughts for Photographers

Last year, I received a letter from a reader who was concerned about the future of photography. Here’s what she said and my reply.


I love photography and have traveled the world taking pictures as a photo buff in the past, but since 9-11, I just feel there is no future in taking pictures anymore. I can not travel the world as an American without concern for my safety and I personally feel in the not so far future we will all be living in caves once again with all systems gone, therefore, once my camera became inoperable, I just did not bother to have it repaired or to purchase an new one. Sorry, but maybe others are in the same mind set.

Thanks for listening.

Dear Patricia:
Thanks for sharing your views. I’m sure many photographers share your concerns for safety and a sense of loss since September 11th but I don’t and here’s why.

I was only a baby on December 7, 1941, but I am sure there were similar feelings aroused by that tragedy, but our nation struggled on from that “date which will live in infamy” to orbit the earth, discover a cure for polio—a crippling scourge that was a plague when I was young, land on the moon and aim for the stars. Oh sure, there are ongoing tragedies, including humankind’s seeming intolerance of one another’s political and religious beliefs, plagues such as AIDS, and the latest school or office place murders that never seem far out of the headlines even at this time of year.

Avoid moving into a cave, like our ancestors did, but think about this. What did early humans do when there was no Habitat for Humanity to help them own a home? They moved into caves and created images of their world on their walls using the tools at hand. Our tools at hand are silver and silicone and we can use them to change the world one person at a time.

Volunteer your camera at a homeless or battered woman’s shelter to make pictures of their kids and family. Go to retirement homes and make portraits of senior citizens they can share with their family and friends. Document farmers at work harvesting wheat, fireman washing their trucks, and the letter carrier or UPS delivery person bringing packages. Build a website that celebrated the goodness found in the world; not the evil, not the terror.

The most precious gift anybody can give is pictures of the people they love. Photograph your kids; make portraits of your mom, dad, or grandparents while they are still here so these images can be shared with future generations. Have your own portrait made and framed and give it to a loved one; they will cherish it. Never, never forget that photography is a universal language and use it to make friends for all humankind.

Yes, Patricia, there is life after September 11th, there are fifty states of people burgeoning with life and hope for a better future for their kids and grandchildren.. Photograph them to celebrate all that is good about the world.

Hopeful of the future,



At April 6, 2005 at 7:21 PM, Blogger Rick Frumkin said...

Very inspirational My photography was reborn with digital. My wedding photography was becoming formulaic and I was taking few risks. After 30 years in photography I was on the verge of giving up. A canon D30 opened up the world again, and I havn't looked back. I'm only sorry I only have maybe another 30 years to create images.I found your blog in shutterbug, and it would be great if you had some up to date items. Thanks Rick Frumkin Cleveland Ohio


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