The artist’s journey

This is Colin’s favorite photo from the entire trip to Peru. To provide some context for that statement, he took more than 1,000. And he’s extremely hard on himself, which is probably a statement you could apply to most artists, and especially the good ones. When he announced that he was going to post his favorite photo from the entire trip on his blog this week, I was a little surprised. Surprised that he had identified a favorite photo so quickly. Surprised when I saw how simple it is. And then I remembered that sometimes, especially in the middle of 21 days of intense travel, simple is good.

If you’re wondering why I’m setting aside space to post this today, it’s not just because I want as many people as possible to see this photo. For about four years, I was the arts editor of a newspaper, and I talked with and wrote about artists every day. I genuinely enjoyed meeting with these people, and felt privileged that it was my professional responsibility to learn more about their work, their passion, and to share it with the world. I respect that being an artist is challenging, and I’ve often felt that by inhabiting their world for work, to a certain extent I became an artist myself. At least, being in their company made me feel more like an artist myself.

But that doesn’t compare to living with someone as they discover and explore their passion for art. I was there when Colin made the decision to become a photographer, and I’ve seen the daily work he invests in his craft (not to mention the very costly photographer equipment). I’ve gone to bed some nights, usually around midnight, and he’s still obsessively editing his work. And when I get home from the gym, he’s usually already situated on the couch editing his work or watching a video on Photoshop. And I’m not saying that his investment in his work is any greater than that of the hundreds of artists I’ve interviewed in my capacity as arts editor. But I didn’t live with those people. I didn’t watch the daily struggle, even if I know enough of art to construe that it’s there, whether I witness it firsthand or not.

So my investment in Colin’s art is grounded in my fascination and pride in his journey, in the artist’s journey, and a little bit in sadness at just how tough and thankless that journey can sometimes be. This declaration of victory–in finally taking a photo even he believes in and loves–made me so incredibly happy.

This is what he had to say about the photo on his blog:

A First in Peru

November 13, 2013
Peru_Chivay_Old Man.jpg

My street photography skills have thus far amounted to absolute crap. After three years of developing as a photographer, the idea of snapping images of strangers still sends waves of dread undulating through my gut. For this reason, many of my images from traveling depict half-turned heads and sillouhettes of strangers’ backs … and often landscapes or dogs that can’t scream at me for photographing them.

This, I have found, does not make for a compelling image.

During my recent trip to Peru, I wanted to come back with something more challenging, and therefore more special. And though my camera stayed firmly secured in my backpack for many of my first few days—due in large part to the fear-inducing warnings riddled in the pages of Lonely Planet and other guides—I eventually grew more daring. Yet it wasn’t until fairly deep into the trip that, after spending some time in a small shop in the mountain town of Chivay, I summoned the stones to ask an old man if I could take his portrait. He agreed without complaint, and the resulting image is something I am genuinely proud of.

For many reasons, this image will forever be special to me, and it is by far my favorite picture from the trip , but just one of many that will be trickling out as I comb through all of my files and wring out with a bit of (very minimal) retouching. I have added this image to the People section of my photography page. Much more to come soon.

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