There are many people I have come in contact with over the 67 plus years I have been alive. Some for just a few moments and others have been friends for years. When it has come to photography, martial arts, music or other hobbies and interests I have had in common with others, it has been a learning and sharing experience. At times politics has entered into the discussion, usually in reference to the common shared hobby or interest. And usually that has been in regards to something that impacts us directly or in the administration of the organization.
But over the years this has really changed as the social landscape has become essentially a battle ground for imagined hurts, alleged crimes and so on. As a more conservative artist it has become more and more apparent as the years have gone on. In one case, I asked to be removed from a well know photographers email list because he had become very outspoken in his devotion to one side of the political spectrum to the point it was obvious any other viewpoint was not to be tolerated regardless of the truth. The email list had started out with insights on photography and what was going on as well as teaching moments. However, once the political opinions started flying it was time to move on. I know he did not take it well when I asked to be removed from his list.
I have appreciated the other photographers who for the most part have stayed nonpolitical. While they have had strong opinions on the environment and are in fact advocates for its protection, I knew this going in and have respected them for it. And this was in line with my love for the outdoors and the harm to the environment. At times the specter of global whatever or climate something has entered the narrative, but I have managed to overlook the expressed concern when it has been an emotional response as opposed to a factual confirmation of the situation. In my opinion there is just too much we as humans do not know about the environment and the climate in particular to think that we can have a substantial impact on changing it especially when the whole of humanity is not involved and wanting to change their behaviors.
And I must admit what really motivated me to think about being a conservative artist in the midst the liberal art world, was the obvious drift of another photographer whom I have admired for his insightful and thoughtful observations and writings. Initially I found them to be helpful and inspiring and attended a workshop where I found some very great instruction on the digital side of things as this is where I needed help. The instruction and book made for some great improvements in my digital work and producing wonderful prints.
But after a while, the wonderful insights he had shared started to become more self-centered and about his lone interactions with the environment as well as adapting stances that were not really supported by facts and more by emotion. And while I struggled with these more, what I would call personal writings, I felt I should be open to his life journey.
But it changed with just one post here recently. All I am going to say about it is when I was in the Army and a PsyOp Operator one to the biggest things we had to do and remember was not to impose our cultural point of view on the one we were trying to influence. You cannot change another culture by forcing them to conform to yours and its of greater importance to understand and accept theirs in working towards positive influence and change. I observed this photographer, again whom I have great respect for, interject his cultural and uninformed opinion on the rest of the audience who consumes his works.
Sour grapes on my part? Thin skin? Unopen to other opinions? An idealistic traditional purist photographer unwilling to make changes? A conservative opinionated artist unwilling to accept the political and unsubstantiated biased viewpoints of the liberal majority?
I would say in some instances probably, but who among us is not without the biases and attitudes that keep us from seeing a problem or another viewpoint completely and objectively. After reviewing those who I have respected as photographers, I have realized that while they may be wonderful artists that does not mean I have to embrace the political narrative they espouse. Their position as artists with a following allows a platform for them to influence and in some cases misrepresent a situation, they do not have all the information on or the cultural nuance to comprehend the situation, because they are a transplant to this country.
So, with all of this being said, and obviously being a more conservative artist than is found in the ranks of the artistic world, I am dropping these folks as influencers on my work and in my world view. I have lived over 67 years on this planet and have seen and experienced a shitload because of the paths I have walked in the world. I am going to be true to the truths I have experienced and the world I have observed and not allow the narrow-misinformed life experience of others deter me from my path. Perhaps they will have other objective insights in the future but for now I need to be true to my artistic vision and not their political take on society and how they think it should be.