I was asked recently why I choose to shoot “documentary style” as opposed to traditional or “Creationary style”. And truth be told, I didn’t really have a good answer but it’s really got me to thinking. So after a little soul-searching and self analysis, here’s what I came up with.
I’m into reality. It’s really that simple. I want to capture a moment in time that’s really happening as opposed to create the idea of one that is not genuine or real. Tennessee is fine and has its place but it doesn’t really turn me on creatively or stimulate me intellectually. So that’s really at the core of all of it.
Finding a moment in time that will never happen again ever. Capturing that so that they can be remembered for posterity or look back upon or even scrutinized. All of that is not possible with an image that was “created” that didn’t really happen.
A quick story… several long years ago, when I was working in the communications department of a large financial services company, we were charged with putting together a short video that was just supposed to be a skit. A short humorous Little ditty that would make people laugh at the beginning of the all company meeting. The idea we came up with was to follow around one woman who everyone in the company new. Her name is Sophia and she was a real Spitfire. Had her hands in everything, companywide. So of course she was the ideal candidate to be a subject of our short film.
At first, we wrote a script that really made her into a caricature which we thought would be hilarious. First of all, everyone knew her and what she was about so they would get it, right? But I became clear pretty quickly that two things were wrong with this. Number one, she couldn’t “act”. She was only good at being her genuinely. Anytime we gave her lines that were things to act out, she couldn’t do it. “Sophia” never came out.
Number two, what we wrote for her was never as good as the genuine her. And we knew it really quickly.
So in the end all we did was follow her around with the camera as she went about her day. We got ours in hours of “Sophia-isms”, all genuine.
I just remember looking back on all of the footage as we were editing it together and thinking “this is gold”. Something sparked and me. Something moved me. It was the reality happening before me and me just capturing it. My life truly change direction over those couple of days. And I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for Sophia.
Now this is and to say that there’s not a certain amount of creativity in documenting. One always has a unique I or approach and how they see the reality unfolding before them and how they choose to capture it. And there in lies the creativity of what I do. The art, if you will. No one will view the reality in the same way I will. No one will capture it in the same way I will. And therefore the uniqueness of my perspective is the artistic part.
So I think that kind of says it all. Reality on realities terms, unfolding before me. And it’s up to me to capture it as I see it. Through my unique lens. Through my unique approach and vision. Informed by my philosophy on my experience in my life. That’s what I’m striving to do in my life and in my work so the only way to really accomplish that is to document and to be “documentary style”.