entropy

captain at age 8, shortly before my command was sunk by a hurricane

everything lasts forever in a photograph.

Sometimes people ask me why I got into photography or what I like about it.

Although my father did like to take vacation photos on fancy cameras and I even got to play with a Canon F1 that was lying around the house, I didn’t grow up surrounded by photography. Instead, most of my childhood memories are of family trips to England and France, and even more of constant relocation. We lived in Germany, Brazil, Israel, Northern Virginia, New York, etc. Just ahead of the internet age, there wasn’t really any such thing as “keeping in touch” with your third grade crush (although I did end up going to prom with her in another country, but that had more to do with fate and the US Air Force).

Through a series of (un)fortunate events, I eventually found myself in the strange position of making a living from photography. Still, I don’t think I had ever really examined what I liked about photography. Sure, I enjoyed the process, the combination of technique and artistry, the collaboration with subjects and crew, the pretty girls, the catering (might I recommend the caprése), the pretty girls, etc. All accurate, but it ignores the fundamental question of “why is photography important to me?” There are plenty of other things I could do for a living…so why photography?

It comes down to this:  I’m an antisocial person who lives for human connection on a visceral level. I love seeing what makes someone tick, exploring relationships and friendships, feeling physical chemistry, finding vulnerable beauty. Unfortunately, due to imperfect memory, age, death and red wine – once I learn this information in a 3am conversation, I can’t always retain it.

I only have a hazy memory of what my friend Josh in third grade was like to hang out with (and no police reports to reminisce over, as we both had diplomatic immunity from our respective countries and paid cash for doctor visits). I only have a vague image of what Nikki, the first girl I kissed, looked like – modified by my own id and years of poor quality chocolate consumption (thankfully remedied in my adult life). And I’ve lived in many incredible cities, but can only really remember the family vacations that stuck in my head and occasionally in my father’s camera.

my father at his law firm on fifth ave at 42nd st

Sometimes, through sheer luck or possibly with the help of some craftsmanship, a photograph can capture a moment or even a person.

Throughout our lives, relationships change. Occasionally through traumatic physical events like death or illness, but often through the more mundane machinery of life. People grow up, lives diverge naturally, arguments turn into lifelong excommunication, lovers grow apart, old relationships take on new dimensions, etc. Things are constantly evolving, being destroyed and reborn.

What I love about photography is that in my images, nothing will ever change. While my own perspective on the person or place in the image will surely change in the years to come, when I go back to that image, it hasn’t changed. In 1/60th of a second, I can show someone’s mischievous spirit. I can capture the introspection in their eyes. I can highlight their sexuality in an everyday expression.

There’s a certain type of immortality that can infuse a photograph of a person. To me, a perfect image is not one that is technically brilliant, or has the most innovative composition, or was shot with unusual equipment, or any of those things. To me, a perfect image is one that gives you the same emotional experience you would get if you could sit down in a room and interact one-on-one with that person at that moment in their life.

my mother's class photo at cornell

No single image will capture a personality – hopefully we are all a bit too multifaceted for that. And neither will a 30 minute conversation capture a personality – if it did, modern courtship would be a far different animal. Instead, I’d like a single image to capture a 30 minute conversation.

I want the picture to be worth a thousand words…of meaningful conversation with my subject. You can learn a lot about someone in a thousand words. We have 278 left…

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