I remember the first time I looked into the viewfinder of my grandfathers old box camera. The image was upside down and somehow I found that fascinating. This camera is one of his, I believe he got it from his brother, but I wish I had his old box camera. It would be a constant reminder of how magical the photographic process really is.
Being so involved with my digital family scrapbook right now, I can see and appreciated the need for documentation. Without these photographs I would have no visual connection with my ancestors.
I believe everyone thinks of photography this way in the beginning at least. "I was there, I saw that, and these people were with me." It is a very important role for the photographic medium and for some people, perhaps most, that is all it is and ever will be. That is absolutely fine. But for me, and some other contemplative souls, photography can be something more. We all can't write books or poetry but we can all make photographs. It is the most democratic of mediums.
Now I look into photographs more that I look at them. Through my journal writing I explore the why's of of my camera work...why this image at that time? I've come to see the camera as an extension of something deep inside of me that I am only partly aware of but photograph by photograph I am coming to a more complete awareness.
Now, I am well past the half way point of my life but I do look at the medium in a completely different way now. Since I firmly believe that I am my photographs, long after I am dust people will be able to know a lot about me by looking at what I paid attention to. Someone once said that to truly know a person, look at what is on their book shelf. I say, look at their photographs...