writing with photographs

October 18, 2010  |  landscape, musings, nature

Yesterday memories of my time at Shamper’s Bluff (seen above) came flooding back as I listened to an interview Freeman Patterson recently did on CBC Radio. It was lovely to hear Freeman’s voice again, recounting some of the stories he shared with us but there was also a reminder for this journey. Freeman spoke about the camera looking both ways. It’s a not a new concept to photographers but Freeman was more specific saying that with “every photograph we make, we are all writing our own autobiography“.

Our photographs record how we feel, our fears and secrets, our dreams and desires, our successes and failures. They are who we are, pieced together over our lifetime. I wonder what images we would create if we were more mindful that we are writing stories about ourselves all the time through our photographs. And I wonder if we would take more care responding with our words to the images others make if we understood that they all carried a piece of that person in them.

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12 Comments


  1. That was a lovely interview – thanks for sharing.

  2. What a great sentiment, and so true. I’d never thought of it that way but we really are writing our own stories with each and every photo we take. Brilliant.

    • Isn’t it, Paul? Freeman has the perspective of being a photographer for so many years and is able to look back over his work to see how it is all autobiographical, but he has given us a gift in that we can think about it now.

  3. Sabrina,
    I recently returned from my second trip to St. Martins and also listened with great interest to the CBC interview on October 13. The magic that Freeman creates is amazing, but the passion that he inspires and leads others to discover is a priceless gift.
    You are quite right, if we truly understand that the “camera looks both ways” and each image we create contains a personal statement we must be remember that when responding to the work of others. Your observation is a powerful one. Thank you!
    I have been following your “Chronicles” for a year and look forward to each edition. Again, thank you!!!

    Suzanne Nolan

    • Welcome Suzanne! It is wonderful to have you drop by with a comment and thank you for being here over the past year.

      I’ve heard of people visiting St. Martins and Shamper’s Bluff more than once and I can definitely understand why. My own group has stayed in touch and are talking about a return visit. I’d love to go back and have a second chance at photographing Freeman’s chair!

  4. It’s true about Freeman’s quote. On thing that I am trying to do with my photography is make it my story, my legacy. I don’t have any children… yet, so I want to at least leave some interesting images behind.

  5. I saw this linked on the Craft & Vision twitter and I’m really looking forward to listening to it.

    I really love the idea of our photography sharing a view into our inner worlds. But sometimes I struggle with the idea that my work can or is actually doing that. It goes hand-in-hand with David duChemin’s idea of vision (I’m finally reading Within the Frame!) – I’m just not sure that my photo of a pretty alley that I came across shows any vision. And sometimes, I’m so happy with the work I’m creating… Anyway, now I’m blabbering on but thanks for sparking some thought, Sabrina!

    • Sometimes a photograph is just a photograph but it always belongs to the maker. I don’t think we need to think too much about it Preeti. When you listen to the interview, you will hear that Freeman didn’t think about it until much later after he made the images. I think it’s something you notice when you look back at your images. If we worry too much about it, that probably slows the journey. Just file it away and it will come out when you need it :)

  6. …they all carry a piece of the person in them…
    -beautifully put. You have such a gentle way of making an important point, …it’s like a lovely reprimand. LOVE that! Thanks for helping me see just a little bit differently.

    • Thanks Anita. You know I was thinking of the rant but I just couldn’t do it. I’m terrible at rants. This is much more my style.

  7. Our p.o.v. does say a lot about us, but thankfully each photo is also an isolated entity of itself and can speak of numerous other things/lives… otherwise I am grouchier and more ornery than I think I realise :D

    I love your landscapes in North America. Everything is so straight out dramatic, colours, forms, vegetation etc. It’s far more arid, worn and muted here, magnificent in its own way, but just such a different experience.

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