Inside this issue
The Humanless Condition
On Introversion, Solitude, and Photography
Professional photographic artist, author and speaker working primarily in the Western US.
Solitude is the human condition in which I keep myself company. ~Hannah Arendt
A magazine editor I started working with recently inquired about images for a piece about outdoor adventures. “Why are there no people in your photographs?” he asked. “Because,” I answered, “there aren’t that many people in my life and certainly not when I photograph; and those that are, like me, don’t usually care to be photographed.”
I am an introvert and a recluse—traits I have come to believe are neither fully understood nor generally respected among those who do not possess them. In that, introversion is in the good company of such things as inspiration, grief, rapture, depression, awe, the thrill of discovery, or the sense of profound revelation. Those who have not experienced such things may perhaps be able to grasp them as concepts, but not fully appreciate them as powerful forces in the shaping of one’s personality, demeanour, choices, and ultimately life.
Whether you are an introvert or not, I believe that understanding the introvert mindset is important not only in the sense of allowing others the personal space they need, and that may be broader than your own, but also because introversion is very prevalent among creative people, and it is likely that a considerable number of your fellow photographers fall into that category. It is important also to distinguish between introversion and shyness. One can be an exuberant, self-confident, “Type-A” person and still be an introvert.
For an introvert, it is likely that the quality and experience of photography may be impeded by the not-uncommon tendency to practice photography in groups, or in places where escaping the presence, chatter, and behaviour of others is difficult. It is why I almost always decline invitations to “go shooting.” My introversion is such that photography (or any creative endeavour) and socializing do not—cannot—mix. It is also part of the reason that I don’t photograph when leading workshops, and cannot answer such questions as “how would you photograph this?” I don’t know. I would need to commune with it, alone, for some time, perhaps several times, to have an answer.