Defunct church central California. 35mm Tri-X 400 with Canon A-1
Philosophy & Reflections

What A Photographer Needs – By Ryan McCarthy

October 16, 2019

I need air, water, food, and a darkroom to practice.
I need light, film and time.
I need my photo assistant Ansel, who also happens to be my dog.
I need my partner. I need my truck that doubles as a studio and darkroom on wheels.
I need a destination, the desire to explore, and a story to tell.

I need the outdoors. Not just any outdoors. I need the kind of outside that has rich history and fingerprints of the past. I need a geologic feature or a ghost town.

I need sunrises in the desert during the winter with soft light and purple pastels. I need breathtaking vistas of waterfalls swelled with spring flow cascading over dramatic drops disappearing into an ancient canyon. I need the cool summer coastal breeze that carries the sweet smell of salt through a forest of ancient Redwoods casting dappled shadows. I need the fall amongst the Aspens to be present and experience the metamorphosis and the color shift that is autumn. I need trails to travel down and lead me where I yearn to be.

I need time. I need time to slow down, to think, to compose, and pre-visualize the image in my head. I need the extended moment of intimacy working with large format film and a view camera to be present and bask in the moment and place. I need the pressure and the excitement of having just one shot. I need the ground glass of the camera back to frame what is truly important. I need to feel the energy and make sure no detail of the landscape is overlooked. I need the process that begins as the journey comes to an end when an image is created from salt and light.

I need somewhere to lay my head at night during my travels. I need somewhere to park my truck and make my camp. I need somewhere to swim, wash and play. I need the feeling of being alone but together with the nature that surrounds me. I need that moment around the campfire to think and reflect upon my place in the world. I need the stars above so I can look up and ponder my place in the universe and the legacy I want to leave.

I need access to public lands. I need others to care. I need others to ponder their legacy and how they want to leave this place. I need others to value our most precious resource, the land and its many gifts as much as I do. I need to convey the history, magic, beauty and importance of our open spaces to others so they know what is at stake and what is on the verge of being lost. I need others to be aware of the current corporate take over of the public agencies created to protect our lands that are now being used as vehicles to exploit their precious resources. I need others to stand up, become involved, use their voice and to vote.

I need others to need.

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  • Reply
    October 16, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    I feel this.. To my core.

  • Reply
    David Hill
    October 16, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Hear these words. Heed these words.

  • Reply
    Louis Sousa
    October 17, 2019 at 2:15 am

    Moving words, wonderful images.

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