We all have blind spots, fotografers included. And if you are a fotografer
your blind spots can and should (if you are lucky enough that folks pay
attention to what you do), be held up for examination. If you do work
that doesn’t neatly nestle into some easily defined space, the chances
it (the work) will be questioned increase exponentially.

And, like I say, that’s how it should be.

Is it, though, the fotografer’s responsibility to be aware of any and all
ramifications of what they do? Should they have thought through all
the repercussions and possible meanings their fotos may unleash?

Along with this goes the question: Does what you think about what it is
you are doing have to, by definition, be correct, or does your proximity
to the activity actually skew your perspective?

There are probably two trains of thought about this, or, more accurately,
two extreme positions and a whole bunch of grey area in the continuum
between those extremes. Namely: 1/ yes, you must be accountable, you
must know, and, 2/ no way, man, knowing is not necessary, just do what
you do, you don’t need to explain or, really, know.

I definitely fall into the second camp, or, more accurately, towards that
end of the continuum.

I’m more an action-man kind of guy. I do the work but try not to think
about it too much, I leave it to the folks who may be interested to make
of it what they will. My work tends to polarize so I’m lucky enough (if
you want to call that “lucky”) that there are competing ideas about what
I’m doing, whether I should be doing it at all and just-what-the-hell-am

If you think my work makes you uncomfortable, you should see what it
does to me. I wrestle all the time with the morals and ethics of what it
is I do. But I’m just not the kind of guy who wants to explain. Or, more
accurately, can only explain in my own way.


Steph getting ready to go to the airport, February 6, 2013

During the last two projects I’ve done I have blogged about what I’m
thinking. And I think, like we all do, along certain lines (not to imply
I’m actually “certain”, you droolers know I’m anything but) but I am
a prisoner of who I am. And who I am is this fella who thinks along
certain lines. (I try, as one day replaces the next, to evolve, to change,
to become more rounded and aware. Have you ever tried that? It’s
really difficult.)

One of the lines I think along is to try to contextualize the images I
am presenting. . .

Steph was doing great the first 2 days she was here. Stressed out for
sure, what with being back on her old stomping grounds, the scene
of the crime, if you will. We had a number of discussions before she
came about how likely it was she would be triggered by returning,
but she really wanted to come and, like the whole project, really, this
was an experiment: Let’s do this and see what happens. (I know that
that sounds bad, am I experimenting on humans? What kind of man
am I, anyway?)

Steph did great, being in the gallery, in front of all those strangers,
her recent past up there for all to see and judge. But afterwards she
fell back, like she does from time to time.

I don’t see this as some big failure, rather I see it as a small victory.
Sure, she stuck a syringe full of a RedRocket (100 mils of morphine)
into her arm before she went to the airport. Old habits die hard.

But she came and faced her past, we had lots of discussion, a few
arguments and she did the dishes. She had the experience and now
she’s back home, on methadone and a hundred times stronger than
she was a couple of years ago.

That’s what I call moving in the right direction. But the road is long
and the road is hard. For all of us.

Author: Tony Fouhse

Tony is an Ottawa-based photographer.