There is no doubt that our world is undergoing a rare and accelerated change. A kind of forced rehab is upon us, demanded of every sector of life. The cascading effects of the Corona Virus epidemic leave little doubt that time is up for many institutions and assumptions about how society and civilization itself should be ordered. Introspection is also stimulated in us all. This, of course, is beside the point to actual fatalities, the immediate actions necessary to be taken, and the collective measures to contain the spread.
Many writers of fiction and nonfiction alike have tackled the inevitable likelihood of a simultaneous economic crash and pandemic. Either one can cripple and warp our societies. Together they force a reckoning, but as many are also writing, they can motivate ingenuity, invention and illuminate truths and options to which we had been blind or too distracted to embrace. Will this re-template our relationship to health, to nature, to ourselves, to our ways of cooperating and organizing borders and resource? It seems to me not just an eventual possibility or likelihood but an unavoidable path.
So, as we all watch how this re-birth of our cultures and societies will manifest, what role does photography play? The image captivates and educates, this much will always remain.
The honorable role of being the eyes of the world and wielding the tools of truth-telling through photojournalism is something we now all take part in, on some level. What about the image of the landscape and the work of the landscape photographer? The street photographer now confronts a new set of barriers, how might they adapt to these?
The landscape photographer remains what they have always been – the introverted keen observer practicing reverence through the awe of nature. The hunter and seeker who now likely confronts a world with altered social terrain and shifting ideas of mobility. As I wrote recently in another article, our backyards, parks, close by buildings and local environments are perfect settings for our photographic adventures. We need not only look to far-flung locals to find imagery and inspiration.
The lesson here is about going within. As we are prompted to stay inside, we are also prompted to look inside ourselves and our photographic practice. What is genuinely inspiring, and what is of value to us? Is the world in front of us big enough? Is an ocean within a sea shell and the vast world right in front of our noses worth investigating?
I have always believed so.
We must embrace this change to find the beauty amid the chaotic times ahead. With change being the only constant, we can deepen our adaptability and discover what photography becomes. One thing is for sure, we can always find something new in our photographic practice if we are open and willing and if we pick up our cameras.
There is always beauty to behold, always, and our photographic practice is the perfect refuge.
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”John Lennon