Intimacy and photography

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” — Ernst Haas


David duChemin once told me that my photographs lacked intimacy.  He was spot on, of course.  At that point I was taking photographs of my travels, my friends.  While they were pretty, they weren’t expressing anything about me, at least from an intimate sense.

At first I thought he meant that I needed to do more photography like he does – travel, but also close-up photography of people (something that terrified me).  We talked about how I could overcome my introverted nature and approach people, develop enough of a connection to feel comfortable in photographing them.

After thinking about that for many weeks though, it occurred to me that the intimacy I needed to reveal was within me.  That I was doing photography to please other people, and not my inner creative self.

So I took down my “storefront” (my website) and decided that until I had a set of photos that reflected who I am on the inside, that made me smile, I’d drop off the grid.

Being the research-aholic that I am, I started reading everything I could about the creative process, the nature of art, what differentiates a snapshot from a photograph, etc.  Nothing seemed to answer the question I had inside – who am I as a photographer?

What broke me out of it was simply getting out there, taking tons of photos across many types of mediums.  Film, different cameras, filters, macros, abstracts, landscapes, cityscapes, nature…anything and everything.  Pardon the pun, but slowly everything started to come into focus.

I’m an emotional, passionate guy.  It’s in my DNA.  I wanted my photography to reflect that – to show the intimate side of myself through the one medium that I was good at.

The art images on my site are an attempt at capturing that.  I still have a long, long way to go, but now I have a direction/vision in my mind of what a full portfolio of mine would look like.

Now I just have to go transfer that vision onto film

What style of photography will make you smile from within?  Which will reflect the true you? (Hint:  It’s not more megapixels).  It can be scary sharing that inner you, but the payoff is worth it.

 It’s different from making pretty pictures that your friends tell you are great.  “The limitations in your photography are within yourself’





  1. Beautiful post, very thought-provoking. What will reflect the true me? I don’t know if I can answer that yet. It’s a long and winding road, to be sure.

  2. I have to agree with Mark, thought-provoking indeed.

    I’m impressed that you know what your vision is and how it might look reflected in an entire portfolio. I’m nowhere near that point. What I am realizing is that many things make me smile inside but I still have to discover is what they have in common.

    Great post!

  3. Hi Mark,

    I really liked your post, probably because I’m going through a pretty similar process. But one thing that I did not think about it was Intimacy. I’m going to work on this, so that my photos can reflex intimacy… from my own but also from the subject.

    Thank you!

  4. Hm, this is a really thought-provoking question. I wonder many times if I stopped posting my photography out there (on Flickr, etc.) would I still be taking photos? Or would I still take the same kind of photos? I know when I am really excited about a photo and post it and get no comments, that I’m posting something that I love even if other people don’t.

  5. Mark, this is a great post and like the others above I identify with it greatly as I am going through all the things you and they describe. I’m a workaholic too and am reading and photographing a lot to find out what the vision that resonates or vibrates with me in perfect sync is. I suspect it will be like a true note, when two modes of vibration overlap and hit the pitch – which will be the realization point. It was great to read the story on Sabrina’s blog, that’s what brought me to this post.

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