Permission to Create

I was recently introduced to the YouTube channel of photographer Alec Soth. A fellow Minnesota based photographer, though I say fellow only in the sense that we are both photographers though clearly existing on a different plane of talent.

Mr. Soth is brilliant and offers some fantastic insights into the craft and art of photography, while I’m just kind of a guy with a camera that enjoys making photographs.

It’s those very insights from Alec Soth that spurred me to write a short post here, however. In a recent video called Backyard Photographs (In Times Of Turmoil), he goes through various books of what he calls “simple photographs” and discusses the value of such work when viewed through the full context of the time they were created.

Something about this chat really hit home for me because over the last year or so, in the face of the Covid 19 pandemic and way more personal family tragedy than I care to think about, I’ve found myself often feeling like it’s pointless to worry about creating new work.

Why bother? In the face of everything else happening in my life and in the world right now, what does it matter?

But if we take Mr. Soth’s advice, and remember that there IS value in it because someday we(or perhaps even others) will look back at the work we are creating TODAY and understand that, in the full context of all that was happening, this work DID matter on some level.

Though I think it also spurs in me a need to do better in documenting in written word, via journaling or maybe even blog posts or who knows what else, just what was happening AROUND the photographs themselves. In an effort to help provide that needed context… then again… maybe history will do that for us?

Either way, check out Alec Soth’s video below. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

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