I’ve been noticing a change in myself over the past 2 years when it comes to photographing people. Earlier today, I had a freshman look over my shoulder at the portraits that I shot of some of my friends during a critique that had finished about an hour ago. She asked “So i really like your photos…could you take a photo of me?” and I asked why? I think she was taken aback because she saw the multiple shots that I had made about people who I genuinely care about. “Do you take these photos for class, or for fun or..”
I explained my process, explaining to her that, as of now, I only take photos of people who I want to remember forever. Its a process of memorializing a moment on how somebody felt at a particular moment in time that captured their essence. An essence that I have been chasing to capture well for the last 3 years of my college experience.
Guys, I’m not the same photographer I was 2 years ago — its a crude, almost stupid realization. I’m not as emotionally flexible or able to interact with people back to back, cause I’m human? I guess this what happens after 4 years of idiots typecasting you into the same damn box. What have i become? Nothing more than a robot who lives to take photos of others — Am I nothing beyond the photography cross that I’ve been nailed to? Who am I? I can always tell myself that I am more than the box that I have been typecast but it feels impossible to swim against a riptide that has been specially created to trap you. The idea of the “Jay photograph” as a measure to further social capital on campus as well as a promotion of self on instagram, tinder, facebook is something i want to disintegrate into thin air, and hopefully after I graduate in a couple months it will.
I’ve been pushing back — for literally the entirety of this year (my last year), I have not been working on my Human’s project as intensely as I was sophomore and junior year, rather opting for other projects that challenge me technically as well as creatively. I can’t say that Ive ever been happier — it honestly feels as if I am doing something illegal by taking pictures of people that matter to me and make me the happiest at the cellular level, and making those choices independent of whoever is around me. Yes, this is my life, and the people that are in it have come in, left, re-entered, and stuck around at various points throughout my undergraduate career.
And I would not like to have it any other way.