Landscape As Relevance
This Saturday I was in the City shooting with my little Contax when I started feeling like I was repeating myself. I was doing straight ahead “street photography” and not exceptionally well, competent but not extraordinary. I stopped and started thinking to myself, Why am I doing this? What relevance does this have in today’s world; in this age of tumblr? I literally stopped in my tracks and put my camera away. I then headed to a wonderful little used Records and CD shop on 18th Street, Academy Records. Then I had lunch and took the next train back to New Jersey and spent the rest of the day bike riding with my son and wife.
As a photographer I keep asking myself what of this world is of concern to me? How do I want to approach photography so that it is fulfilling. When I was doing a lot of street shooting it was basically a way for me to interact with the world and people. But in the past few years I keep coming back to my concern of how people are treating their environment. Dominion arose from my concern of mankind not being a good steward of the planet. My photographing of messages carved into trees I now think (thinking always thinking) symbolizes people’s thoughtless and selfish use of our natural resources. Not that carving your initials into a tree is going to lead to environmental cataclysm but it does spoil the view for others. That I think is the big problem, in general we do not think of others or even of the natural resources when we avail ourselves of their nourishment and comfort. Many Native American cultures thanked the animal they were about to kill and eat. They appreciated the sacrifice of the animal and killing was not something undertaken lightly (at least ritually). Land was not something to own, it was a part of everyone, to be used and shared and managed for the continued use of future generations.
Yeah, I know I sound like a tree hugger but I can’t help but think about these things (and my Native American DNA) when I am in that reservation in New Jersey making these pictures. And with all this talk about Climate Change and how we maybe irrevocably harming our planet, this maybe an especially relevant topic.