"I would love to travel deeply and widely. And what is the deepest and widest you can travel? It's to come back to where you already are. And I saw my own circumnavigation of the earth, in my mind's eye, and I realized in that moment that nothing would be more dear to me than where I already was."
For those who do not know, Emmet Gowin is one of the still-living photography greats of our time. From what I can tell, he is a deeply thoughtful and empathetic man, and his photographs dictate that. I knew of him before 2022, but it wasn't till March of this year at a portfolio review that a photographer suggested I take a look at his work. I instantly became fascinated and purchased a photo book that demonstrates a small snippet of his life's work. I recommended that book in a previous post on this blog.
I think this quote is incredibly true, especially for photographers. Even for those who do not photograph, it holds a lot of truth (though it doesn't necessarily need to be taken literally). For photographers, it feels very literal, because traveling in one's mind's eye means actually going somewhere. Mentally processing "home" or the place that made you who you are typically requires a camera.
Many photographers speak about the inability to make meaningful work in a place that the photographer does not know well. Sure, a naturally beautiful place is going to lend itself to nice photographs. (That brings up another discussion I've heard which is the question of travel photography being legitimate since the places are "easy" to capture...I disagree, but just something to think on.) Back to the original idea – can you really know a place if you're only just meeting it?
Living in Dallas, my hometown, I have come to find that the places that most people find unattractive or mundane are the places I want to photograph. I see merit in the idea that we need to get out into the world to make work. But I love the challenge of finding beauty in the simple.
And of course, what makes this place so "dear to me" is my family and friends – who I photograph often.
Making photographs in Dallas is easier for me than anywhere else that I've been in the world so far. It also brings me the most joy. The opportunity to explore who I once was, who I am, and who I could be is possible through photography here – where I was born.