It’s very difficult to write well about an image. The power of the image is how it employs imagination; its ability to transport the viewer to a unique place or moment in time that – for all intents and purposes – is the sum of visual stimulus plus – the unique life experience belonging solely to that individual.

In that moment these two things combine to produce an experience unique to that person, that image, that time. To then sway or guide or influence the viewer with commentary is a little like telling them how to feel about something. To focus excessively on technical details is to pull the curtain back exposing the magic and causing any use of imagination to instantly disappear; like a dream as you wake.

Often times there’s no reason behind an image beyond the simple truth that it elicited a response from the photographer, and that response resulted in the image. Other’s reasons for making an image range from the etherial to pragmatic. Dianne Arbus once said, “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know…” Robert Adams spoke of the decision to make a photograph “as a kind of seduction, and the seduction is worked by light.” And finally William Eggleston frankly states, “You take photographs to see what the world looked like, photographed.

self portrait

Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado (1987)

When I visit a place – especially for the first time – identifying the typical targets is something I avoid. You’ll see exceptions to this; the Maroon Bells for example. This image I’ve waited nearly 30 years to make – despite the 100 other photographers there, sharing the moment with me. Generally speaking, in a earnest attempt to truly get to know a place I’m more apt to be found slowly wandering, alone, seeking the things others may pass by. For me really getting to know a place is a process requiring time, solitude and observation. Wim Wenders once said, “Taking pictures is a very solitary thing, at least for me. That’s why I wouldn’t even want to have an assistant with me, because the very presence of somebody else would make that more important than my relation to the place. And to immerse in a place is strictly only possible when you are on your own. You can fake it and you can pretend to want to listen to a place but as soon as there is someone else there, even if it’s just a bystander looking at what you are doing, it is over. You are no longer in the privileged position of being a listener.

This for me is one of the greatest joys of wandering with a camera; using it as an excuse to be in the world – not just looking, but earnestly listening. This is what I hope Blue Hour Journal does for you: inspires you to get out into the world, listening and discovering. Then be able to share with others upon your return. Please enjoy Blue Hour Journal and use it to fuel your own journey.