An Abridged Philosophy of Photography and Spring Break

It must first be understood that I have not been all that much of a photographer in the early years of my life, and as a result, I have never really developed a good understanding of the concepts behind the art of photography. By virtue of my location and a wonderful Christmas gift from my Grandparents, however, I have been given the opportunity to develop a more keen understanding of some of the oddities of photography – more specifically, the oddities of tourist photography.

I find it interesting that there is a common desire for people to plant themselves directly in the middle of the picture they are taking with the major attractions of the place they are visiting in the background. It is almost as if we need to prove that we have been to these places and to make the background, even if only metaphorically, ours to keep and take home.

It is carrying on with this same thought that I notice myself becoming irritated when other people walk into the field of vision of my camera when I am about to take a picture, and wonder why? I believe that this is due to the same reason that we want to place ourselves into our pictures – and that is to make the subject of the photograph ours, to take possession of the image of the place we are visiting and not “corrupt” that image with the image of another human being (especially one we don’t know). We don’t want to remember that there were thousands of other people there, enjoying the same view, taking the same pictures – we want to remember the place and our time there as unique visitors with a unique perspective, rather than as a miniscule part of a herd of tourists; that concept bears rather distasteful fruit in one’s memory.

In light of this, Tina and I try to include ourselves as little as possible in our photography of the places we go; maybe one or two photographs per roll, but no more. It is a concerted effort to make the representation of the place more important than the representation of our selves. When we do photograph each other, it is an attempt to integrate the feelings that the place reflects in us and to accentuate and complement the true subject of the photograph: the place.

It is with great joy that I inform you that Tina and I are about to go on our spring break around England from 2 March to 11 March. A group of us are planning on going to several different cities within the United Kingdom and enjoying the British countryside. London is quite an enjoyable experience, but we are certainly ready to get away from the wailing ambulance sirens, screaming police cars, countless rumbling diesel trucks, and insane motorcycles for a bit, to enjoy the countryside that is made more beautiful in contrast. Silence is a concept not fully appreciated until one is deprived of it for great periods of time; who would have known that the deprivation of a major sense could be so enjoyable?

I will give you all an account of our journeys upon our return next week. Until then, I will leave you with Welsh author Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” which struck me as a wonderfully written piece of poetry. Read and enjoy.

*Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night*
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Written by Dylan Thomas in August of 1951