Thursday, June 25, 2009

Risk taking

Someone beloved to me said: "Dad, you're too close. You could get hurt." (Don't do that.) I've had crashes almost land on top of me. I'm careful to stay out of the way, to not contribute to crashes. Being close, though, helps grab the decisive moment. I'm not too much for complicated photographic technique, a bunch of flashes and $20K of gear (though my stuff isn't cheap). I think -- my photographic style is -- that the real value, the art, is catching the scene and the context. Recording something very human, pathos. Whether it's slum kids in Cairo, a dying man, or a cyclist on the edge.

Yep. I could get hurt. Here, I'm ambivalent. Because I was gravely injured by a drunk driver when I was 17, I have not had a pain free day in 32 years (excluding occasional, prescribed narcotic drop-offs). My father was a famous war correspondent (and occasional photographer), all the big ones from Vietnam forward. (Age 75, he was embedded with 1st Marines in Iraq,
Kuwait to Baghdad.) My great grandfather and namesake walked from Capetown to Cairo, taking pictures. Two or three times. He walked across Russia with a pushcart. India, Japan, more. I've marched with protestors in Mexico shooting film, and left my girlfriend (now wife) crying on the street while the brown-shirts arrested me photographing Basque rebels in Spain. (Both times my camera and pictures were confiscated or stolen.)

Alas, getting close, it's a bit risky. But -- for a mild-mannered computer nerd embedded in government -- it is vivifying. When I'm done, kaput, I hope it will be a good picture.

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