A need from deep within

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Readers of this blog will know by now that Sebastian Salgado is one of my inspirations and a few months ago, while browsing in a local bookstore, I picked up a book called From my Land to the Planet written by him in collaboration with Isabella Francq that covers his life and his photography. It is the quote on the front of the book, visible in the picture above, that really resonated with me and prompted me to buy it.

I suspect, that this quote will speak to many of the blog’s readers. What started for me with the desire to finally replace my old film point and shoot and  buy my first DSLR some nine years ago, has turned into something I could barely have foreseen then. Like Salgado, I too love holding my camera and looking for images, feeding an insatiable hunger to take more and more photographs. And like many of us, I now own far too many cameras, lenses and particularly camera bags.

We are always on the look out for more pictures. We wake up when it is still night to head out to capture first light. We are late for dinner, because there is more evening light to capture. There are days I come home when the light is about to fade and I have to race to get one of my cameras to record another amazing sunset from my balcony. It is not the view that continues to astonish me, but the never-ending variety of colours in the sunset skies and the million ways of capturing this city.

It is more than merely recording the moment. It is somehow trying to capture that moment in time in the way that I saw it, trying to convey what took my breath away. Sometimes I succeed, more often I fail, but I’m slowly getting better at it and it never stops me to try again or to take more pictures. It’s been quite a journey so far and there is still a long road ahead. I’m not even sure where that road is leading, but I’m happy to be on it.

The quote on the front of the book is from the final paragraph in the book, after he has described his journey into and through photography – how it nearly destroyed him and how it resurrected him. But it is only part of the final paragraph, which also reads:

“My photography is not a form of activism, it is not even a profession. It is my life. (…) My photography is all of this and I cannot claim that the decisions that make me choose to go here or there are rational. It is a need that comes from deep inside me.”

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I would argue that is not always the case. Sometimes we need words like this to express why we do what we do.