This morning, somewhere between stuffing my face with chocolate pancakes (we've been on a chocolate pancake high around these parts, don't even ask) and reading about how Amazon is pretty much destroying the world, I realized that my photography is alive.
I don't mean crazy-sea-monster-with-turquoise-fangs kind of alive, I mean that it's a changing, fluid, emotional process. I hope y'all aren't staring at your computer screens, reading glasses propped on the bridge of your noses (Hey Dad!) and saying 'doh Sana, you real clever sometimes'. That would make me feel pretty silly.
So here's the thing- on more days than not, photography and I are in a fight. We scowl at each other from opposite ends of the room, sometimes pretend to play nicely with each other because all the big kids are watching, and also because we're weirdly attached and dependent in a way that only siblings or childhood frenemies can be. And then, just when things seem to be going swimmingly and someone is commenting about how our overalls match- we start kicking and screaming and hissing and spitting and we're back to scowling at square one.
I often wonder why I keep photographing, why I love the feeling of flicking through a freshly edited batch of jpegs, all sorted into politely named folders and appropriately adjusted for brightness and contrast. I suppose I feel like it is easy- to compose, click, edit and be done. Photography does not present the endless series of choices that say, sketching or painting could. Photography does not give me the time or space for the self flagellation that I am so skilled at otherwise. The process atleast gives me a chance to be nice to myself, to just make and be. I quite like that.
That being said, I recently went through some of my images from last year- a set of photographs taken over a particularly emotional weekend in Joshua Tree in particular. That weekend in Joshua Tree was a rough one- I remember that month as the month where my stomach never stopped churning, and tears were always a few frantic gulps away. In the photographs I took that weekend, I saw a desperate search for beauty and order- a fascination for rows of post boxes, the funny line of gumball machines, and a reverence for cactus and texture- multiple close ups of high-dez abstraction. I was looking for organization and calm and closeness to quiet the chaos in my head.
Now, looking at these images from our road trip across Rajasthan in early January, I see a changed Sana. There is a little more cynicism in my eye, a little less wide-eyed awe for all the colors and compositions and chaos that India inevitably presents, but there is a slowly building return to curiosity- maybe more mature than it used to be, and maybe the kind that will last longer, stay alive stronger.
I am hesitant to call myself a photographer, I do not know if this is what I want to do with my life, and I certainly don't have a clue how to make it all financially viable. I do not know what camera you should buy, and I definitely do not want to photograph your wedding. There are a lot of other things I want to do with my life- I want to start a food revolution, I want to make things, I want to start a business, I want to feed people, I want to pioneer something, I want big, abstract, very passionate things. They sometimes involve photography, and they sometimes do not. Either way, in knowing that my photography is alive, there is also the knowledge that in some way, I can continue to use photography to seek out answers and to question what I know, and see. It is not a stagnant set of postcards, nor is it a travelogue and it is most definitely not a meaningless set of pixels stashed on a dying hardrive. It matters, it is important, and it is still being figured the fuck out.
Here are some pitchas from Rajasthan, Pushkar in particular. 'Twas pretty flipping, freaking great.