My Photgraphic Journey Essay

925 words - 4 pages

My grandfather’s sculptures and watercolors have always offered me a way to escape the Appalachian mountains of my childhood. I was bored and a poor fit for the culture around me as a young adolescent in West Virginia, and later Virginia, and my grandfather's artwork gave my imagination fertile ground to escape. As I matured into a teenager in Richmond, Virginia, my unease solidified as I discovered that my political and world views both differed from those held by my family and my peers. So when I reached college, I became a world-traveler. And following in the footsteps of my grandfather, I turned to photography in order to express myself and the world as I perceived it.

In many ways, however, my brand of photography was far more analytic than creative. There is something deeply satisfying about the process of scrutinizing the scene before you, finding a subject, and composing it into a frame that later asserts its presence and meaning. The entire scene depends upon that initial analysis, upon that search for something that no one else sees. And I have a picture from China that exemplifies this. After finishing taking the obligatory picture of Mao Zedong’s looming portrait amidst a bustling tour group in Beijing, I then turned my attention to what really interested me: the crowd itself. After searching through the crowds, pondering about the special story or hardship behind each foreign or domestic tourist, I found an elderly, rural Chinese woman whose face was weathered by years of hardship. As I took a picture of the exasperated glance she shot my way, the resulting picture became one of the best I have ever taken.

And so photography has taught me to always look beyond what is immediately at hand, and translate this pursuit of adventure and new insights into real results. In order to fulfill my education, my photography, and my sense for finding something new, I had to transform myself in the process. While I was in Martinique, and still a beginner at French, my host mother demanded to know what I had learned that day. Not knowing how to describe what we had learned, I took her hand and broke away in the salsa dance routine we had just learned that day. In Japan, seated at a bar where sushi was presented in front of me, I grasped at a roll with my chopsticks and downed raw whale in a single bite. In Athens I chatted with strangers in a taxi-cab as we sped towards our mutual destination. I have not sought to merely experience foreign culture, but to savor every last drop of it. In West Virginia, I had been maladroit, a picky eater, and shy to strangers and new...

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