Reality > Perception

By Jon Hillenbrand In Photography, Stories

Reality is subject to our flawed perceptions. As true in Life as it is in Photography, you must realize that what you THINK is going on is not always the case. This is where experience comes in handy. Some people hear rifle shots behind them and duck and run for cover, others will walk toward those shots to investigate. If you are a combat photographer, your instincts combined with your perception of the overall situation can mean the difference between a photo on the front page of every newspaper in the Western world, and death. Dan Eldon was a shooter for Reuters who examined the beauty and art of the world around him through photography and other means. Unfortunately while on assignment in Somalia, he was stoned to death with three colleagues at the age of 22.

The title of a book of his art, assembled by his sister, is The Journey of Dan Eldon: The Journey is the Destination. I read this book about a decade ago, so it’s difficult to know if my attitude toward life was helped along as a result of reading it or if reading it synced well with who I was already becoming. But I’m a big believer in The Journey. Often the previews of movies are better than the final product. And the road trip is more fun then where you are going. You’ll find a lot of people who don’t understand this p.o.v. But some do. And together you can enjoy the influx of imagery into your lives as it can be one of the treasures to cherish for years beyond your own life together or apart.

As a photographer, I’m often reminded that I’m a documentarian for my work as well as my personal life and the lives of those around me. My work causes me to shoot around 12,000 images a year. So when I’m home, my camera sometimes sits unused. I recently took some photos at the beach of my sister and her new baby experiencing Lake Michigan together for the first time. Pasha, my sister’s daughter, kicked and splashed the water flowing around her 8 month old feet. Fortunately, the light and subjects were perfect and 15 of the 20 or so shots are keepers. A good ratio. Our only intention that early evening was to get some dinner, but the journey of Life took us to the beach and thankfully someone was there to preserve the journey.

Plato believed that philosophers have a duty to bring knowledge to the uninformed. If you have the skills and the means, you have a responsibility to do something within the world around you. If that means that your part will be documenting via photos or video, then your destiny lies there.

What do you think?