For a long time this innate longing to hear stories and experience cultures different from my own was real. It still is today. Yes, I acquired understanding and perspective through good books over time. But as a photographer I want to see. To add visuals to the layers detailing a place or a person.
I have not done a lot of international travel and I have not seen nearly as far to the ends of the earth as I would love to. Still, I am fortunate for the unique places I have been. Killarney, Lake Superior, Halifax + Nova Scotia in Canada as well as Cairo, Alexandria + El Gouna in Egypt.
During quarantine I managed to sort through boxes of photographs and negatives from the past 20 years. I found travel photographs reflective of a timid photographer–shooting through windows, capturing drive-by photos that couldn’t possibly sum up any sort of feeling or understanding of the people or place they mirror.
Still, I understand that they are part of what brought me to my work today.
As my experience with photography has grown, it rings true that "less is more." Photographer Sally Mann says in her book Hold Still: A Memoir With Photographs,
I believe that photographs actually rob all of us of our memory.
I have been contemplating this a lot lately. Thinking of the legacy of photographs I will someday leave behind, I have come to understand there must be a balance between capturing life in a nostalgic way, while not capturing so much that I become less present. Or so that my boys don't have their own unique experiences of childhood preserved without my visuals of it. Rather than trying to capture full events, my photos focus on specific details + moments strategically conjuring up memories of a specific person or season of ones’ life. Mann also wrote,
I tend to agree with the theory that if you want to keep a memory pristine, you must not call upon it too often, for each time it is revisited, you alter it irrevocably, remembering not the original impression left by experience but the last time you recalled it. With tiny differences creeping in at each cycle, the exercise of our memory does not bring us closer to the past but draws us further away.
The mini photo story I put together with film photos includes the poem "Travel" by Robert Louis Stevenson. I love the way the poem addresses actual travel as well as a boy's dreams and stories about new places he hopes to one day encounter.
You may not have made the conscious decision to homeschool as I did before quarantine began. You may feel forced and stuck into this difficult new balance of work, home life, alone time, and teaching! But give yourself grace and remember how much of life is learning without ever opening a textbook. I hope in this season we can take advantage of slower days and less noise–a sort of a reset in listening and exploration of our own love of life.
Hi. I'm Suzanna.
I like running outside, eating real food and crafting beautiful images. I am captivated by documenting everyday life–revealing what authentic, adventurous and lovers of life we all are.