Photography is a visionary art. It portrays not only the visual, but the intent and universe of the photographer. His/her selection is a means of directing the viewer to another realm. It is an invitation to see the world in a unique way. Not every artist takes this opportunity, but the potential is always there. I’m not interested in everyday life. I want to see what lies hidden in our lives. What treasures lie undiscovered? What potentials can we yet express? I am interested in the physical realization of an idea. How do we bring ideas to life? Are we the dancer or the dance?
When I began recording images, I would take pictures of reflections, shadows and obscure objects nobody noticed. I would feel a tingling in the brow of my head. It would make me high on the perceived aesthetic brilliance I was partaking in. I wasn’t only taking the picture, the picture was also taking me. We were taking each other. It was a dance.
My first grainy black and white images were doorways into other worlds and other ways of being. At one time, I was fascinated with toaster reflections and could shift into a shiny parallel time by staring into them. I would also sit in a San Francisco café in the mission and move in and out of the reflections of the stainless steel napkin holder. Hours would pass and several cups of tea later, I would emerge enriched. I stared into puddles searching for similar entryways.
After surviving for several years on burritos in the mission district, I started to long for social dialogue and the idea of having a career. I interfaced more with the ideas of style and commerce. I became very interested in making images that were formal and polished. It was a way of saying, “look what I can do, I’m a not only a child of the avant-garde.” It was an embracing of this world, this time and place. Art isn’t about everyday life, it’s the alchemical distillation of an idea brought to life. Having an idea and staging it, is an exciting, creative moment. Again, it is a dance. Who finally decides what the outcome will be? It’s a mutual organic creation.
As my photographic styles evolved, I relaxed my strict formal desires of making technically perfect, glossy images. I became more interested in the “truth” of my subject, whether it was a model or a film actor. How can I portray them most authentically, maybe even in a way no one would expect. What is their most stunning quality, even if it is seldom recognized? How can I support their truth, their dance?
Now I’m serve the moment as authentically as I can. I don’t look to promote a specific style. I look for the most perfect image for the situation, even if it’s a scratched Polaroid of a hotdog bun fighting with a donut. If it’s playful and fun, then it’s a good indication I’m on track.
When I teach photography, I ask photographers to be aware of how their body feels when they are in the process of shooting. Can they feel energy in their body? Where? In their heads, hearts, throat, gut or sex? The flow and concentration of energy when we shoot are indications as to why we take pictures. Why do we feel the need to document the world and our lives? I usually feel energy flowing in my solar plexus and my third eye. This evolves around my need for spiritual beauty and integration with personal power. Others have different impressions and needs.
Concentrating on the energy in your body is a means of figuring out what transports you, what turns you on. There are different ways of photographing for different purposes: mental, sexual, emotional, spiritual. I find art is most powerful when it integrates all these aspects of life to make a unified field of intention that goes beyond the individual. This embracing of the depth and complexity of life is what the idea of a masterpiece is about.