I am not a photographer; I take pictures. This formulation probably is similar to my views on writing. There is a difference between being a writer, and writing. It is the difference between being a chef and making dinner for yourself in the kitchen.

I am not a photographer; I take pictures.

Ever since I got my first camera, a Kodak Tele-Instamatac using 110 film, I have been taking pictures. When I was 13, for my birthday, I got a Pentax K1000. I point, and I shoot. I prefer pictures of people that are unposed and candid.

I was inspired by a film about street photographer Garry Winogrand, All Things Are Photographable, to take pictures of people in public. When I tried, I realized why Winogrand was a genius and was sometimes called an athlete. If you’re trying to capture a moment, you’ll find people move, they shift, and the moment is lost. An interesting glance recedes to a blank stare. What was a glimpse of secret beauty is covered by a sudden awareness.

And some people don’t like being photographed. Never mind that our every move is on camera these days. The notion of avoiding appearing on security cameras or in the background of people’s selfies is impossible. Yet it can get you into trouble. So you have to be fast. So not all things, or at least not all people, are photographable.

I feel like I gained insight into Winogrand’s tendency to shoot many frames. If I hit the red button 10 times, there might be one interesting image. Often, there isn’t much worth looking at. This practice reminds me of his genius and the risks that he took to produce images that can be called art. What I have done isn’t art, it’s a reverence of Winogrand and a reminder to myself that creativity takes effort and technique; it really is work.

Finally, just today, a woman I knew in high school made her profile picture a picture I took back in the mid 80s with the Pentax. I took it from 10 feet away and it was unposed and candid. She said she didn’t have any pictures of herself in high school. “Thanks Roger for this flash-back picture!” You’re welcome. I’ll keep taking pictures even if the benefit is unknown and the risk high.

As for what follows, I am picking pictures that I like. These evoke something for me and only me. If they so that for you, that makes me happy. There are many pictures and I have enjoyed going through them. I have had time to cover the year before the pandemic, 2019 to 2020.

January 2019