There was a time when I was a good street photographer. There was a time when I would shoot constantly. I’d walk constantly.
I’d walk and shoot. Nowadays I walk to the coffee shop on Sunday mornings to get a coffee for me and my wife. I sometimes take my camera. The coffee shop is at the end of the road above.
Time waits for no one.
As they say.
There was a time when I’d walk all around Iksan on a rainy day. I’d cover my non-weather sealed X100 in a plastic bag with a hole poked through for the lens and walk around town. These days, I take photos of my breakfast.
I guess I lost the plot. At least, photographically. I mean, not lost the plot. I love my life. I am happy.
Happy. That’s the crux innit. That’s the problem. Being happy. I sat down today in this cafe and this post was meant to be called “why I love street photography?”
I figured out before starting to write that the reason I love street photography (or loved as it were) was that it was my mental release. Street photography was therapeutic. Feel stress, grab my camera and boogie.
Street photography was the distraction. Some people zone out playing or listening to music. Some play video games or read books. Some relieve stress by punching a punching bag or going to the skate park. I did so with my camera. I walked. I took photos.
There was nothing else. Anxiety is a c%$t. My cure for anxiety wasn’t pills or booze. It was my feet and my camera.
Now, I don’t grab the camera so much. I don’t care if my camera is big because I rarely reach for it. My photos are happy, because I am. I don’t need to walk out of my house at 3AM to take photos because I can’t sleep. The reason I loved living in Asia is that Asia was as much a cure for anxiety as the camera. Something always happening and always somewhere to go.
Will I ever be good again? Will I ever take the photos I used to?
I don’t know, honestly. I really don’t. I don’t know how much I care to. I look back at these photos and know they’re mine. They feel like someone else’s. I don’t remember this emotion. I don’t remember why I’d take that photo.
I don’t remember being on the train and walking. I walked through the cars continuously. I didn’t want to sit down. Sitting down meant thinking. I didn’t want to think.
So I walked.
If I sat down, I’d constantly be looking out the window. I’d shoot.
Blurry or not.
Framed well or not.
Interesting or not.
These thoughts were safe thoughts.
These photos were self portraits of my mood. I shot people looking the way I felt. I never thought of it that way. I might have said it and wrote it off as hipster artsy nonsense.
Looking back now it is obvious how true that was. I don’t remember being the way I was. Not really. But seeing these photos I can “feel” it.
Will I ever be the same? I don’t think so. I have a loving wife and great family. Anxiety is no longer what it used to be. I don’t need 3AM walks like I once did.
It all started in 2010. My father drowned in 2010. Before that, my photos weren’t that dissimilar to what they are now. They were happier. I was happier. Something happened when he passed. I changed that year. So did everything else.
I meandered through Tokyo for a time. I don’t remember much of what I did. I was just, there. I don’t even think I told many people. I just existed for a while. That was enough. It had to be.
I wandered through Seoul. I thought I was starting to figure things out. I’d go back to Canada for a while. Finish law school. Make my dad proud.
Things weren’t better in Toronto. It was too soon. In fact, I think they were worse. My photos from Toronto scare me. I look at them and feel scared for myself. What was I like then? I’m sure I put on a good face. I’m good at that. I don’t think I was well. I couldn’t have been.
I’m happy being happy. I still take photos, they just aren’t the same as they were. I take them for different reasons. I’m happy for the old photos. I’m happy to look at them. They remind me of where I came from. They remind me of how far I’ve come. Am I a better photographer? Probably not. I don’t think I care. If being depressed and anxiety riddled is what it takes to be what people think of as “good” then maybe I’m happy being mediocre.
Being “good” certainly isn’t the same as,
Some of the images above are from my now for sale zine, Neverland: Volume II “Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul.” It covers my travels back and forth from, as mentioned, Iksan and Seoul.
Available for purchase from Magcloud.
Profits going to help build a home studio. Any questions, feel free to ask.