***NOTE: I wrote this blog post back in August of last year, and have rediscovered it while doing some website housecleaning. Therefore, some of the future happenings are now past happenings–each of the weddings I photographed was a wonderful celebration. It is appropriate to have found it now, when photography IS my focus and when I am trying to transition into a fully photographic life. It is also appropriate now, with the spring weather still coolish and breezy, when I am most yearning for the murmuring of the ocean and cold sand between my toes. Now, almost halfway through the first year of my great creative experiment, is as good a time as any to step back, look at where I’ve been, and chart my course through the waters ahead.

Those of you who check in here regularly or occasionally may have noticed that after a burst of regular posting (due to some discovered resolution to write and share my experience with others) I have gone somewhat quiet recently. I have been very busy–photography is not my full-time profession, and my family and my job have kept my hands full, juggling all the life things that one is required to juggle. We have found time for fun, and relaxation, and of course, through it all, I have been taking photos.

I learned long ago, at a sailing camp on one of North Carolina’s wide rivers that run into the sound, that it’s important to take a step back from time to time, to check one’s compass and adjust accordingly. I have not had a lot of time for reflection, but when I have, I’ve been grateful to have found, in photography, both a deeply satisfying mode of expression and a way to chronicle my life and to help others chronicle theirs.

I have found myself sitting under the stars on some soil or sand in this grand old state, sometimes in the stickiest of weather, sometimes with a breeze, sometimes with a natural light show. Sometimes alone, sometimes grateful for the company of my wife or my son. And I have thought about all of it, what all of it means. The photographs, what they mean. This life, what it means. And I am grateful for the photographs I have taken–even the quiet ones that are not technically perfect or deeply meaningful to anyone outside of myself–because they remind me of a particular time and a particular place. Sometimes a particular feeling, or some perfect moment.

The photos themselves can never be perfect. Part of the joy and the agony of photographing the world is that you can neverreally capture what you see and experience. You can’t render three dimensions into two and not lose something. No matter how many bits or pixels or inches of print you have, you can never wrangle a cooling breeze into your photos, can never contain your child’s laughter. You can only provide yourself, and others, with some crude portal into a memory–a jumping off point for your neurons, a catalyst for your imagination. Sometimes the frustration of not being able to capture it all on that wafer of silicone or that frame of film can be almost unbearable.

And then sometime later, you might find yourself in the thick of a rut or at a point where you feel like the drudgery of everyday life is relentless and pulling you apart, piece by piece, a little bit at a time. While in that state, you might find yourself looking back through your photos, your little electronic or paper portals (printing your work is always grand), and you might find yourself inspired or consoled, reliving memories, spending time with old friends in beautiful places.

Next weekend marks the start of a series of weddings that I will be photographing, and each one of them should be deeply satisfying for various reasons. I am compelled to photograph, in part, because of the places it takes me and because of the people I come across. There is a tapestry of connections woven through my experience, and it is most often in the people and the places that I find the most gratification.

As usual, I am writing a meandering blog post that has no great single MORAL–you know, a central theme that drives home some incontrovertible point about photography or about life. That is part of the reason I haven’t blogged recently–because I had no lesson. But photography, like life, isn’t always about a point or a lesson or a particular meaning. It’s about trying to hold on to some tangible evidence of an ephemeral moment, of trying to set in concrete something elusive. Photographs mark time, eras, periods, change. They describe the past in an imperfect way, like the warped glass in old windows.

I stopped writing fiction a long time ago because I didn’t see the point. I got burned out and found that it wasn’t satisfying to me on its own–it had to accomplish some larger goal–being published, making money, making a life, whatever. That hasn’t happened with photography yet, and I very much hope that it never will. I don’t expect to be immortal, or be famous, or even to be well-known. But I feel compelled to record these things in my life, the way I see them, to communicate my experience, even if it’s just for myself. You can never know where it will lead, what it really means, or if anyone will ever notice. I know that it’s brought me into contact with some extraordinary folks living extraordinary lives.

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