I never feel more alive than when I've found a place and time to photograph. Something rings in my head, like the bell of a boxing match. I know that the light and time and place have all cooperated at that very moment to present me with a unique image, never to be repeated and soon gone forever. I feel it in my gut. I have but a moment. Sometimes I fumble with my camera, cursing it under my breathe. Like my own cold fingers on a frigid day, it initially won't cooperate. Then we settle in and make the image. Sometimes it works, sometimes, back in the studio, it's a huge disappointment. The clinical transferral of life to two-dimensional plane is often fraught with miscalculation.
The self-absorption of the photo shoot is palpable. I feel like a bubble-man, hermetically sealed in an imaginary floating gizmo that separates me as detached observer. I mutter to myself in these moments, getting lost in both the mechanics and aesthetics of the process. I feel intensely present but not of what I photograph. It can be a feeling of isolation—out there exists the world swirling in life and here I am an extraterrestrial unit assigned to capture images on wafers of silicon. In reality, the feeling is an illusion. I am never more connected to life than when I am finding images that resonate with me. Yet, the process is a package of emotions with lots of complexity. Though intensely engaging, being a photographer often feels very lonely.
It must be the camera. The camera is a buffer between me and what I am observing. Once I take off the lens cap something changes. The tiny moment of preparation changes me in some way. My head rises from the waist-level camera and I am different. It is dreamlike detachment, out-of-body weirdness, temporary insanity. And it is utterly addictive.
Today's image was made at Stinson Beach here in Marin County. Midway through a hike, we stopped for lunch and a brief jaunt on the beach. On the way back I found this moment. It felt like a still life arranged for my pleasure. In the background several beachcombers arranged themselves in the perfect place. Going through the above-described ritual, I made the image. Then, everyone moved and the scene was gone forever.