Which group is behind glass?

If you’re familiar with my work, you probably know that I’m a proponent of street photography. It’s a sort of anthropology. A sort of digging into what it means to be human, in a particular place, at a particular time. When I travel to places to see famous things, I spend about half of my time observing the people observing the thing to be seen. The Aquarium in Okinawa is no different. One of the things that has been interesting to me as of late is what I call the Selfie Arms Race. When I first started studying off-camera lighting, there were a million basic things that were completely unknown to the general public. But ask any of the selfie generation, and they know the tricks. They know the equipment, too, or, at least, they know the cell-phone version of the equipment, designed for the full-auto cell phone camera. Because it doesn’t happen if it doesn’t look fabulous on Instagram.

Camera technology has changed so much in my lifetime, but kids struggling with cameras too heavy for their small frames has not. And it always warms my heart. I have good memories of my parents’ Canon, with the old school circle-and-needle light meter. It took me a long time to really settle on still photography as the thing I wanted to do, but I always knew I wanted to make some art. And if you’ve ever heard me, you’d know that singing was right out. But everything was encouraged, and I was able to experience a lot of art as a child. Also, I was super lucky to be close to the Chicago Art Institute, to this day one of my favorite places on the planet.

There are always people struggling to create the most beautiful image of a place. I’ll admit that I’m one of those people. But I don’t want to sacrifice truth for beauty. I’m the happiest when the beauty of the image reenforces the truth in the photo. Or the truth that the viewer pulls for themselves out of the photo. The viewer makes the narrative, and the photographer can only attempt to guide that narrative. I hope that in my attempts to guide the viewer, I am guided by something resembling the truth, even if it’s subjective and difficult to pin down.