Sunday, November 17, 2013

Your Truth vs The Real Truth

I'm somewhat of a photographer. Not professional, obviously, but I've won a couple awards and sold a few prints.

Somebody asked me today, after looking through some of my portfolio, why I don't do "people" photos - why do I only do nature?

The easy answer here is that nature is infinitely beautiful and far more of a challenge. You can't exactly ask Mr. Blue Jay to please hold that pose.

But the truthful answer is "because of how I grew up."

If you look at photographs of my childhood, you will see what you interpret as a happy child. Always smiling. What you're really seeing, is a talented actor - a chameleon, able to size up a situation and change attitude and demeanor in order to be safe, in order to play by the rules.

No one was supposed to know we lived in squalor, that my mother was a manic-depressive hoarder, that my father was an alcoholic who frequently tore our house apart in fits of rage, that he was physically and sexually abusing his child, or that, for many years of my life, we had no plumbing in the bathroom other than a five-gallon bucket. It was a secret that he drank up his paychecks - that my mother and I frequently went to bed hungry. These were shameful things that needed to be hidden.

And so I hid them, because to do otherwise risked my very life.

So you see a picture of a man laughing with his family, and I see a picture of a man who could very well be a monster. That's the first place my mind goes - the first thing I ask myself: "Yeah, but what is he liked behind closed doors?"

Mr. Blue Jay isn't going to return to his nest, eat all the food, beat his wife, and molest his child.

Nature is truth. Nature is honesty. safe.

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