I have probably taken more than 100,000 photos over the course of my love affair with photography. I like to find the odd angle in situations or find some narrative within a photo. I like photos that tell a story but more than anything I find that photography reminds me of my humanity and is a running history of my life.
I can remember the moment within every photo I ever took. And I find that amazing. It’s as if my memory has been externalized into the hard drives of my computers and paper of my books. I can look back at any photo taken over the years and bring back the moment, the thoughts and the place…I can bring back why I took the photo..the motivation behind it.
For a man with a poor memory I find it quite a marvel that I have this information embedded within my psyche.
For a few instances:
The Opportunity in Rain
These clothes pegs were on the line outside my bedroom window in a little rented house in a little Italian village called Barberino south of Florence. It was May and raining. We decided to stay inside and wait out the weather before venturing off to Sienna. Inside, the house was cool and damp and dark but I just had to lean out the window and watch the rain — I wouldn’t let one moment of our vacation go to waste. The photographer in me would not be thwarted because of the weather and lack of mobility.
I knew I could always find a shot in any situation. I focused on the clothes line because it cut the scene outside the window in half and I felt there must be something in that division. When I focused on the line and blurred out the background this beautiful moment came into focus. I remember a feeling of triumph as though I had beaten the rain at its own game.
Another Burning Man
This photo was taken at Burning Man 99. I had walked out into the desert on a solitary stroll in the early evening, away from the variety of wild camps, in search of images. I remember feeling something between lethargy and heat exhaustion. As it was Burning Man I was wearing only a thin sarong and my walking boots which were covered in the red dust of a previous desert detour — Arizona’s Antelope Canyon.
Right out there in the open, away from other collections of craziness, I found this. This small representation of The Man in his silent scream was slightly eerie. I remember trying to find a good angle because I only had one shot left. I lay down for a shot at eye level with The Man, but it brought in too much distraction from the horizon. Even though I could have used a narrow depth of field, it didn’t seem right. I remember the hard-baked clay dusted with fine powder as I lay down, the heat pressing on my skin. Then I stood up and using the rule of thirds just snapped my last shot, thinking I’d caught a good one about the Burning Man experience.
Looking at Me, Looking at You
This photo was snapped while I was wandering around near Trevi Fountain after taking a variety of shots of crowds and water and waiting for my wife, who was shopping. She wanted about half an hour to poke around in the clothing stores and so I went out looking for more photos. Not hard to find in Rome, I might add.
I remember looking down this alley and seeing this dramatic scene, hearing the traffic on a major street a block away and the occasional voice surfacing above the din. But something was wrong — what I initially thought were buildings was actually a photographic facade created to hide the renovation going on behind it. And I was struck by the irony of coming thousands of miles to take photos of photos of the very buildings I could have photographed if only I had arrived earlier. I noted that the word on the sign underneath the lamp was also backwards and this gave me the feeling I was inside a mirror, looking out as the woman was looking in. I had also been thinking that one day I could probably crop this scene to do something interesting with the model’s eyes. I have yet to do that.
In the moment of taking a picture a relationship is formed between the photographer, the process, the place and time. This relationship is purely personal with the photographer. Everyone else will see and react to the photo as an object in the here and now. But for the photographer, each photo will forever offer the ability to enter deep within it, to move back into the moment outside the normal boundaries of time and space. One can be transported back.
It’s wonderful how the crystalization of a moment can re-engage one’s mind and enable one to cross those boundaries. For those who appear in a photo this process could also happen, I suppose, but only if they are consciously aware of the process at the time. This makes me think that photos are more a process than objects. That they are like magic portals.
All photos ©chrisholtphotos
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