How many pictures are there in the world? On the Internet alone there has to be billions of photos. If we add all images ever made, the number is mind boggling and, who know, it may reach into the trillions, Against this mountain of work, this lone photographer wonders, does the world need any more pictures?
There is a case made for photojournalism, wherein current events need recorded for posterity’s sake. And there is some need to document key events in a person’s life. But other than that, is there really a need to add any more pictures to the giant pile if images that already exist?
I suppose if I were to create something new, that might be a good excuse to add to the corpus, but is that possible? Going through the list of landscape, architectural and fine art photographers it is apparent that very few people from this generation will top that work. Also, rarely do the newer artists will do something that is truly new and the best we can only copy what have seen and add our own imperfections.
Dorothy Sayers wrote one of my favorite books entitled, “The Mind of the Maker” in which she provides profound exposition of two of the most famous Bible texts – Genesis 1.1 “God created the Heavens and the Earth” and Genesis 1.27 “God created man in his own image”. The question we face is what does it mean to be made in God’s image? Traditionally, Protestantism held that “work” was the crux of the creation passage and that through work we, as mankind, find our purpose. For six days God did labor, and thus sets the pattern for us. From this, the concept of calling is introduced, in that God provides desires and direction for people to take on occupations and that through that work we find happiness since we are made in the image of the working God.
What Dorthy says that it isn’t work that is the primary focus, but “creation” is the key to understanding what it means to be made in God’s image. For six days we see God’s hand in creating, and likewise, we are creators. Not true creators in that we create physical something from absolute nothing, but we in a more limited sense bring about something new. Looking around us, this explanation seems to fit. From architecture to sculptures, from medicine to roads, we constantly reshape our world. This explains the drive to produce pictures when the world is already full. It explains the illogic of a species so bent on producing goods that provide no tangible benefit. We make and consume it simply because it makes us feel a certain way.
Like art, photography, fits into a metaphysical category that defies scientific explanation. One hand the world doesn’t need it, but on the other hand, in a very contradictory way, it apparently does need it.
So , is it with audacity that I attempt to sell my work that is so feeble in comparison to the work of so many others? No, it is with wonder. It is with amazement. It is with thanksgiving that somehow I am a part of the chain that brings the wonder of this world to people. That the sights and images that move me, also move other people. That we can all celebrate a single capture of time and space.
I can’t make sense of it, but that is ok.