Observation is a moral necessity. My attraction to photography didn’t emerge from moral necessity. It was more like breathing, taken for granted, something like biological & cultural ideas and actions interweaving daily and something so familiar and taken for granted I did not know what was. I just wanted to ape my parent’s behaviors. Photography was my parents’ recreation, a way of paying attention to whom they wanted their children to be. If I’m unkind, I’d say they wouldn’t have paid attention at all if it weren’t for their cameras.
Loren Eiseley writes that, “God asks nothing of the highest soul but attention.” I don’t know about God. I imitated my father and mother and grandmother. Attention is one of my higher powers and I attend to it, I schooled myself in it more than I knew at the time, for development of such things, and I do inwardly digest what I pay attention to. To pay attention, to observe, I think is something like being one whom waits who is also serving… but documents it.
I did intend to cultivate “higher”. And I began to do this trying to imitate photographers Eugene Atget and Bernice Abbott. I was drawn to their images, I could see them in museums, and I lived in a major urban center. I could try to emulate them.
Imitation is more like what I would call my judgment in the word “higher” now. Back in my day my aspiration wasn’t quite so articulated and unraveled. In reality I just think I was young and proud and aspirational. I wince a wee bit now at my “higher” judgments.