I recently finished working with a high school student receiving homebound services. For medical reasons the student was unable to attend school. He also has a specific learning disability that effects his ability to think related to calculations and spacial relationships. Therefore like myself, math is not his strong suit. To put at ease the anxiety he was facing in completing his algebra assignments (and to reconcile how I would accomplish teaching a subject in which I do not fair well) I told him math was like organizing a messy room. In order for the algebra equation to make sense, everything had to be ordered in its proper place and putting socks in a drawer or hanging shirts in the closet was doable and that the same could be said of solving algebra equations. If we considered all the finite symbols and variables of the equation like we would socks and shirts, then perhaps we could arrive at an answer. We also worked on English which, was a more enticing endeavor. When studying poetry, I told him reading poetry was like taking the same room that math made clean and making it messy again. This was to the both of us much more appealing. Because in reading a poem we pull things out of the closet and drawers to understand what the room is all about because a room is more than the sum of its parts.
Photography is much the same. Photography is a two fold process, one that is algebraic in its constituency and poetic in viewing. And then so perhaps, in viewing a photograph is where the creativity most lies. Not in the organizing of content, that is the making of a photograph, but rather in the viewing and more specifically the interpretation. How much after all, can a fence post imbue? Nothing if not for the hopes and fears of the viewer of the photograph. This all feels a bit troubling as a photographer myself. I like to think of the process as a bit less route than cleaning a messy room, putting items in a drawer and belongings on a shelf. I like to think that the act of photography is more critical thinking. But it is not. It is a response and a mechanical one, both the camera with all its components and the photographer in his method.
There is hope for the photographer, however. There is what informs the act of photographing. There is deciding what we elect to photograph and what motivates us to do so. And in that process the photographer is open, a critical thinker, considerate to the creative process, knowing of the dialogue photography creates and sensitive to the reception of what has been determined to be photographic. This and his audience, is what imbues the fence post with more than what it is not.