Thomas Gardiner on Dedication.
The question of what motivates me to take photographs has always been a difficult one for me to answer. I guess that’s because it’s a little like being asked why you’re attracted to a certain girl, or why you like to drink… Of course one can always come up with trivial answers just to keep the conversation alive, but those answers—put into words—always seem to me to be inadequate and unsatisfying compared to the real experience of being with that girl, or of getting drunk that time, or of making that photograph.
My own motivation for photography is perhaps somewhere within this conflict. To try to explain it feels a little like trying to find the light switch in the dark. Though photography has always been tied, to some extent, to its ability to represent observable reality, I get most excited when ambiguities emerge within the medium’s fixed landscape of supposed facts. Though these ambiguities at times might even appear to contradict these so-called facts or the constructed meanings and biases behind them, the power of a photograph for me is its ability to suspend your disbelief. To leave you momentarily baffled. This is the challenge that is perhaps at the heart of the pursuit for me. A good photograph is worth a loss for words.
Don’t get me wrong about my love for taking pictures. I get an unbelievable high from meeting new people and being in a new place as part of the pursuit. To go out in the world with a camera is extremely stimulating, but when it comes to making a good picture, a picture that I alone am satisfied with, I cannot say what it is. I think the only thing you can count on is the feeling of it, the physical sensations of seeing, which is intrinsically tied to looking through the lens.
Photography, like life, can be extremely frustrating and disappointing. If you care about even in the face of constant failure, these frustrations and disappointments are magnified. When you feel you that you have succeeded, though, when you are truly satisfied, there is no feeling like it! Photography, in this way, for people who truly care about it, is like life or death. It drives you. My desire for the medium is essentially embedded in this dichotomy. And the problem of explaining photography is perhaps, in it’s own right, a kind of motivating force.