Shortly after I got my drivers’ license, my dad handed me the keys to a life lesson on wheels: a 1977, four-door Lincoln Town Car. Rusted from the hood to the tailpipe, it got about 8 miles to the gallon and the drivers’ side door wouldn’t open, but hey, I had wheels. More importantly, I had a cassette deck in the prime of 90’s hip-hop. So began my insatiable love of music. I kept shoeboxes of cassettes under the seats of my beloved, unreliable “Stankin’ Lankin”, and whether I was stuck in traffic or coasting down 8 Mile, on a warm summer day in Detroit you couldn’t tell me anything as long as I had some A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Pharcyde, or Rakim in the deck.
Blissfully narrow minded and ever distracted, however, was not quite what my folks had in mind for me; eventually I would get serious about my education and manage to discover (with Dad’s nudging) Miles, Coltrane, Chopin and Shostakovich. Anyway, one day Pop tossed out some advice that still resonates today. “Instead of driving around aimlessly, blasting that kiddie music all the time, why don’t you turn the radio off and use some of your time to THINK? Think about what you want to do, where you want to go with your life. You never know what you might come up with.”
Today, the amount of blaring daily distractions has grown exponentially, and our attention spans may well be lower than ever. This problem seeps into all aspects of life, including photography, and I wrestle with it as much as the next person. The usefulness of quiet contemplation is so easily crowded out in favor of an insatiable love of social media. As a result, perhaps we spend so much time immersed in other people’s worlds that we fail to build our own? What could happen if we dialed down the amount of aimlessly opinionated, endlessly regurgitated, over-caffeinated media we consume and carved out more time to contemplate our own approach to photography? You never know what we might come up with – or where we might go.