100mm high key macro photograph of a honey bee feeding and pollinating a purple coneflower blossom.

The Technician

100mm high key macro photograph of a honey bee feeding and pollinating a purple coneflower blossom.
The Technician — 100mm | f/4 | ISO 100 | EXP 1/160

Photo making is a task I invest significant time. 2020 marks year nine in my photography journey, and what an unexpected trip it has been. Beginning as a desperate distraction from depression, it has morphed into a real passion spanning the better part of a decade. I look back and ask myself what has changed since such a somber beginning? How has my perception shifted since my early days as a lost soon-to-be 30 year old with little clue how to use a camera?

For years I thought of myself as a technician. An individual proficient in making appealing photographs. Something of a process driven camera operator churning out landscape and nature photos per the rules. Viewing myself as a proper photographer, let alone creator, took many years of inner wrangling. I was a guy who followed procedure and protocols to produce a good clean image. There was nothing more to it. Follow steps one, two, and three, and a good photo you will be. As ever labels and semantics tripped me up, and I refused to think of myself as something more than a well trained individual who executes a task list. Anyone can do this, and creativity is no factor.

This view, pedantic and self-limiting, was a silly exercise. Over time I eased up on these pointless restrictions. Why put myself in a box? Or the better question, why exclude myself from other boxes? It’s foolish. After several years I grew inured to the photographer label. Being called a photographer didn’t leave me vexed and uncomfortable, with a furrowed brow looking over my shoulder for someone else with a camera . We must accept what is.

Fast forward to the past few years, and I finding growing comfort traipsing into creator territory. Might I be creative? That’s all cool and artsy sounding, so can it be true of a self-professed technician? Here I submit my writing as evidence. Even though my clear renown, such as it is, is as a photographer, it is my writing that brings the most intrinsic joy. This creative act is far less natural to me than making photographs. There is no technical process for me to follow. No clear roadmap for success. This is a wholly feel-based enterprise, and I am certain that leaves learned readers with a proper taste for grammar cringing.

English class was not my thing as a youngster, and this remained the case throughout high school and college. I showed neither promise nor interest in writing. And yet, for the past few years, it is far and away my favorite form of personal creative expression. The words I write to accompany each photograph I share means more to me than any photo I make. Do not get me wrong, it feels great to have a photo meet with broad community appeal. Those likes, shares, and thumbs up feel good! But nothing pleases me more than a person talking about what I wrote. This praise removed the technician from the uncomfortable box he placed himself in. So allow me a giant thank you to every one of you who takes time to read and resonate with my words. Your time and attention is a gift amidst this tripped up world, and I thank you all.

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