All We Hope For. A new beginning.

Possible hyperbole aside, this is actually a pretty significant photo for me to post.

All We Hope For
January 2020. Ho Chi Minh City
1/400 | f 8.0 | ISO 400

It’s been months since I’ve posted any new work. Not because of a lack of material. I still have about 1600 shots from Hong Kong, Hanoi and Saigon to get through.

But since July 2019, when two gangsters attempted to beat me to death in the streets of D4, I’ve been reluctant to engage with photography.

It’s been a weird time. Trying to reconcile this amazing, welcoming country with the one I witnessed that night has been a challenge.

At the same time, I’ve also started questioning what it is that I want to achieve with my work. Probably the second time this has happened to me. And it’s likely I’ll have many many more of them, hopefully each representing some subtle, but critical pivot in my artistic trajectory.

Mix in a couple of unexpected heartbreaks and you’ve got a perfect storm of anxiety for the terminally-vibrating brain of a middle-aged dude constantly evaluating his value as a human being.

So yeah… no photos for a while.

However, thanks to the love and support of some amazing people (one in particular), I was gently ushered through what screenwriters (and a 16th-century Spanish mystic) refer to as The Long Dark Night of the Soul.

I have emerged from this melodramatic state with a slightly skewer nose, but with a renewed impulse to make pretty photos again!

I happily acknowledge that I’m still at the start of a journey. A place where where a small amount of technical competence is starting to overlap with an equally small amount of vision.

But I feel I can’t use this as an excuse to NOT hold myself to a higher standard anymore.

To that end, I’ve started being slightly harder on myself in terms of what I feel comfortable putting out there.

I’m not gonna go into the level of detail that my brain took me because I don’t think the internet has enough letters for this stale, self-indulgent pursuit.

Anyway… here are the basics:

  • No more shots of people’s backs. This was a crutch for not wanting to be confronted. I made a whole complex justification for this and I was wrong.
  • No more shots of people simply walking. I want to capture people interacting with other people, their environment, or even with me. There are subtle stories to tell and I think when you’re patient, they are easy to find.
  • Be cool with breaking one or both of these rules. Once in a while. When I think it’s okay to do so.
  • No more thinking of myself as a “Street Photographer”. I value this term. It carries with it some serious artistic history that I have no desire to question. Some of my photos qualify, most don’t. In art, labels exist for a reason and I want to respect that. I take photos of cities and the people in them. Call it what you will but I don’t think street photography is always what I’m TRYING to do.
  • No more Instagram obsession. I’ll post what I want, when I want, okay, Zuckerberg??? Fuck your algorithm. IG is a great place to exhibit your work, but it’s also a race for likes and follows and I’m not down with that fucking abstract economy of value anymore. I’m embarrassed how important this had become to me.
  • More blogging. I like writing about my life, about living in Asia, and about photography. And I suspect you enjoy reading about these things.

Okay that’s enough.

Get back to your day.

Love you all.

2 thoughts on “All We Hope For. A new beginning.

  1. Dude, I can’t believe this hectic story! And massive “sterkte” to coming through it and for all you embrace moving forward! Much love brother, Nick Olivier

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