As a photographer, a maker of images, I mostly am what they call a “lifestyle photographer”. I make it my purpose to observe the people I photograph, to immerse in their environment and share in the experience of their life. I then create art that not only expresses them, in their physical existence, featuring their appearance and taste in garments, but I am able to capture them in the environment that they make their own and so perhaps manage to capture a little of the spirit of their existence along with everything else. As an artist I can afford to sit and contemplate on what all this creation of art is all about. It helps to, once you figure out the hows, to contemplate the whys; if not for the answers, for sometimes they are few, at least to allow oneself to look at things differently, in a fresh new light. I remember a little ago I heard a friend talk about the last time he played his guitar with friends, it made him think of how beautiful music is. It made me think of how many times I felt helpless and unable to relate my experiences as a photographer to musicians, thinking the two are just two different things, each with potential for beautiful in their own way, but nonetheless with little in common. Once, when I asked him to tell me about the ‘whys’ behind his reasoning for making music, he expressed his unwillingness to think about things like that. That’s when I realized where the common ground between music and photography is. Both are voices of art, of human expression, both can be mind-blowingly beautiful and both can be very explicit in that which they mean to express. But when it comes to either of them, no matter how beautiful sounding, a voice with nothing to say, has very little value, except for the immediate hearing pleasure. I’ve seen that a lot, photographs that are, from a technical point of view, perfect, yet have little to say about anything, little emotion to evoke, little thoughts spring in the viewers’ minds other than, “what pretty colours!”. And I have heard music, entertaining to be exposed to, which in many notes and sometimes in colourful words would say absolutely nothing. Art gives us many voices to tell a story in, many ways to make it entertaining and colourful, enjoyable and understandable, but how often do we abuse of that, calling ourselves artists, but only to fatten ourselves and our audiences serving dishes of whipped cream without a cake underneath, moving hymns written to rebels without a cause.
That is us, artists, at our worst. Here’s one who was many things but not that; Johnny Cash. He was known as ‘The man in black.’ People like his music because of the steady rhythm, his unique baritone voice and some for his dark and sombre style. I personally like to think of him as the artist who can make acoustic music sound dark and heavy (Rusty Cage by Johnny Cash). I like the artist Johnny Cash because of the way I find he sang his soul into the songs he recorded. Although the music he recorded in the beginning of his career is considerably different from that at the end, there is considerable common ground. Johnny Cash has always been at crossroads with himself. His deep personal convictions in regards to right and wrong, his faith in the divine, were in conflict with his human weakness and the choices that life offered him. He did not waste the skill of producing a unique sound, that fate endowed him with, but enriched his songs with the deeply human content of his own struggles which made it impossible for any who had an open ear to relate to him.
A satisfied mind, by Johnny Cash | one of Johnny’s later songs
He very clearly expressed in many of his songs the pain of reaping the consequences of negative choices in life (Folsom Prison blues – below).
And Johnny Cash made sure to keep coming back to the foundation of stone that his person was based on, his faith in God (The Wanderer, Redemption day and There ain’t no grave – below),
Aint’s no grave, by Johnny Cash | one of his latest songs and in my opinion one of the most explicative as to who he was deep inside.
as well as an ever-honest testimony of perhaps one of the most human emotions, the uncertainty of that which is to come (Where I’m bound – below).
Can’t help but wonder, by Johnny Cash