It’s kind of impossible to take a bad picture at the Baltic Sea because everywhere you go, there seems to be something worth photographing. Then again, everywhere you go there seems to be something worth photographing. Photography, however, is sort of a complicated affair. When I am on an assignment, I go into my zone. It’s work, and I know that 100% of my attention and time can be devoted to the exact act of seeing. I think that’s what I love most about reportage photography – this and that I love to be able to tell a story visually. But taking photos for me doesn’t just end when a job is finished. I want to photograph and catalogue my life. I do so to have records of memories for me and me alone (there are many pictures that never get posted here) but I also do so in order to share them with others. This does raise the pressure level of turning out images worth viewing when I am on holiday, do something “noteworthy,” or when I am just spending time with friends.
But there are just some scenes that are not conducive to photography. There are plenty of times the lighting isn’t ideal, or a location may not be aesthetically up to par with what I have in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to create a perfectly curated version of my life for myself or for anyone else for that matter. But I am always chasing things that visually compel me; I can’t be satisfied with a mediocre image. It’s the price you pay for being an artist, I guess. But there are plenty of moments that are compelling regardless of if they look so in a photograph or not. They are moments that turn into memories that I will in turn, hold close to my heart. Which is why I choose to shoot things I know that I will never edit as well. I keep a folder of all the original photos I take. And then there is a folder full of images I deem worthy of editing. And then there are the ones I actually share. And majoritively speaking, most images belong to that giant folder of “crap” images. Because sometimes as nice a place was, it didn’t translate visually. Or conversely, a scene is just too fucking beautiful to be captured by a machine. But looking at even the crappiest of images can bring you back to a time and place – they are a raw and unedited depiction of the way things were. And viewed chronologically, they tell a story. I definitely see parallels here to that folder overflowing with images which no one will ever see with passwords kept safe, not meant to be shared with anyone.
Still, there are other times when I am just having the best fucking day ever that I just want to enjoy the moment and don’t want to be arsed with fragmented experiences, a few seconds being in the moment, the next being somewhere else, worrying about composition. I try to draw a line between how much day-to-day existence I catalogue for that very reason – holidays being the exception. There is a give and take with photography. There are moments you say “screw it” and leave the camera at home – you might regret it, you might not. There are other times you also say “screw it” and lug around that heavy metal that seems to always let you know it’s there sitting on your shoulder, or tucked in that annoying but extremely important case protecting the most expensive 2 pounds of equipment you have ever owned. But even though you might not be able to run around as carefree as you could without it, you shoot the hell out of the day and come back with images that will turn into memories one day. Ultimately when photography is being used as some sort of record, the likelihood that you will look back on a series of images and think “Goddamn, why did I take all these amazing pictures? Who needs photographic evidence of this special moment?” is pretty rare. In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say it before. But I have heard people regret not living in the moment. But the paradox is that in that very moment, when the world is spinning but you are standing still, watching it all through the viewfinder on your camera, that moment, that future pastime, has sort of gotten away from you, hasn’t it?
Photography: Rae Tashman