The life of an advertising photographer is one that involves travel, lots and lots of freakin travel. Sitting at an airport bar becomes our unwinding time and thanks to iMessage and airplane wifi, flights are now the time that I catch up with friends.
I once thought that this life would be a glamorous one, where I told people all the places I’ve been and amazing stories. However, now that I have seen it for what it is, commercial photography is a career where I spend a ton of money on changed ticket fees just so I can see my wife and my dogs a few hours more. While production schedules can be arranged differently, one thing that remains a constant is that you will be sitting on a plane, and there is only so much time one can waste at 35,000 feet.
Recently I decided that I wanted to make the time that I spent in recycled air matter. I decided that I would use the time in the air trying to teach myself to read again. I know it sounds odd for a visual artist, but I have dyslexia, so books have never really been my friends. While it made math hard as hell, I often look at it as an advantage in photography. How, you ask? I really have no idea, but I’d rather look at it like that than be bitter. The plan to my reading escapade was to pick up a new iPad Pro and find some content online to enhance my knowledge base on random topics.
Here is where the big dilemma began…
The internet that we know and love has become rife with information, but not knowledge. While it is easy to routinely visit a topic based site comprised of “articles” written by often angry mid 20 year olds that took a journalism course in college, the truth that I craved was often found in such features. The insufferable practice of clickbate often leads to more time being spent writing the title than the piece itself. I wanted a magazine… More specifically, I wanted a magazine with a staff of writers that had journalism degrees and understood journalist ethics. I wanted to learn from people that dedicated endless hours to one story, people that could form sentences that were more art than shock value. As should follow from my profession, I wanted magazines that hired proper photographers. The type of photographers that take pictures in situations that would break the will of those not fully committed to their art. With this I started putting together a list of what subscriptions I would need to achieve my goal; Time, National Geographic and Wired etc.
It was at that point that a friend told me that about the “Pandora of magazines,” an app called Texture. It was simple, I paid a monthly fee and got access to every magazine I could think of. The images felt so much more beautiful that the stock photography that existed on websites, and the words were captivating. I found myself gravitating towards some really heavy topics in the archive issues. From Ebola to the disposal of nuclear waste, I wanted to be informed.
While we live in a time that is ruled by talking points, the ability to truly understand a topic is still at our hands. I will forever miss the days of driving to my local bookstore in order to sit and read magazines for hours one end. More than that, I will miss what magazines used to be, and the people that made them so incredible. However, with Texture, I have regained a small part of my past. As artists, we draw our inspiration from the world around us, not necessarily from those in our same medium, but from the passion of the many creating different art than ours. From writers, to painters, to chefs to musicians… all posses the power to move you. To not be captivated is to be lost.