Tell me who you are in a word or less

“For My Father” (France, 2022)

Recently I listened to an episode of the “Creative Banter” podcast by Cody Schultz and Ben Horne (episode 17 called “Master Amateur”), which was among other things dealing with titles. Titles like landscape photographer or nature photographer which people give themselves or are given by others to pigeonhole what they do.

Listening to what Cody and Ben had to say about this issue was inspiring enough to make me finally write down my thoughts about this. I am constantly trying to figure out what I am doing and why I am doing it the way I am. To develop an awareness for what we are doing in any of our endeavors is one of the most important things a human being can do, I think.

I have more than once expressed that the term artist does not work for me. Maybe it would have in the original sense, as the latin word “ars” means “skill” or “craft”. But the way it is used, I can’t subscribe to that. So when you ask me what I am, you won’t hear me saying that I am an artist.

So what am I? And this is not concerning this fundamental philosophical problem including where we come from and where we are headed. This is about me as a creative person. Being a creative person is connected to so many aspects of me or us as human beings or just entities, but it at least limits what I am trying to address here a bit.

On your website, on business cards, on social media – you are always required to describe who you are and what you are doing in a word, maybe two. Artist. Photographer. Guitarist. Writer. Musician. Sculptor. Painter. Whatever.

The problem is that if you name yourself any of these, chances are you are not covering everything you are and/or do. I do make photographs. I do write. I do play jazz guitar. I lice. I breathe. I think. I feel. I laugh. I cry. I’m afraid. So what does that make me?

For one thing I’d say: “Don’t ask for a single word. I give you my photographs, my words, my music. I am even willing to give you time we can spend together so we can really find out who we are and can be for each other.”

But if you really need something short, my friend Toni Lovejoy called me something the other day I could feel I could embrace. And with a few words of explanation that’s what I’ll be if you want something short.

To me you are a natural poet.

Toni Lovejoy

Webster’s defines a poet not only as someone writing poetry, but as “one of great imaginative and expressive capabilities and special sensitivity to the medium”.

As photographs are never true reproductions of the world around us, but represent emotions we had as someone experiencing a moment and trying to capture the emotional essence, we need imaginative and expressive capabilities to create such representations. An extensive knowledge how to use a medium to create manifestations of these emotions is a must and a special sensitivity for one or more mediums will enable the poet to make use of the aspects unique to a certain medium and of the interaction of several mediums when used together in creating a piece.

To be a “natural” poet I think simply means is that if we are able to let the creativity flow without forcing it and trying to “learn” it, we realize that this ability was there all along. We all can be natural poets, natural lovers, natural philosophers. We just have to find it again in ourselves, find the possibilities, the sources, the truth, the capabilities and the sensitivity.

Find the poet.

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