I’ve been asked several times what my specialization in photography is, and I never have an answer. Lately I have come to resent the question. Why does one have to have a specialization in the first place? Why conform to the norm and give a name to something intangible and force a category upon it? When my father taught me how to use a camera, that was all he taught me in the beginning: how to use it, how to change the film, and how not to waste it (I started back in 1973 when I was only allowed to buy a roll of film with 12 shots and square flash bulbs with only 4 bulbs). Ever since, I’ve been aiming and shooting, bouncing around the world documenting travels and events for myself and the family, with occasional gaps due to lack of time, equipment or interest. Midlife and recent events in my life changed all. Like the rest of my environment, my photography has changed.
I stand by my personal mission statement that photography for me is part and parcel of who I am, not an extension and not a skill learned for some final exam or certification. It is as human to me as it is spiritual, full of imperfections and a pursuit of equilibrium, never technical perfection. I harbor a disdain to center anything in the photograph other than my own emotions, and those are to be felt, not seen.
My work, if you can even call it that, is not art, will never be art, nor do I even insist on creativity. FrogDiva Photography is not a lifestyle, but a dichotomy of selfishness and selflessness that seek depth in interwoven light and shadows. I strive to overcome the superficial attitude of giving meaning to a photograph, or perform what I have come to call photographic masturbation – publishing a landscape or a rose just for momentary gratification and meaningless praise. This is precisely why I left all photography communities, because I got so few up of the don’t see the pointless of voting photograph or racing to the top. Photography is a path, not a rat race.
There is no official genre in photography called soul photography, but there should be because it would answer so many questions. I do not attempt to find or define the soul of photography, but to practice photography of the soul. It is all about the essence of being, healing, surviving, and above all, living. I thought I was alone on this peculiar journey until I stumbled on two photographers in particular who used this expression and wanted to convey a similar message Susanne von Schroeder of Soul Centered Photography and Tracy Jo of What Stirs Your Soul. In order for me to understand my own ramblings, I took a necessary step back to the masters and retraced the definition of soul and quite frankly, it felt like being back in my university Philosophy class.
The soul is the virtual breath of life but how do I translate philosophy into photography?
Plato defined the soul as having three components: logos, thymus, and eros (reason, temper and desire). In soul photography, these are the fundamental pillars of the moment and justification for pressing the shutter. The reason for wanting to recreate the image, the temper governing your soul at the moment, and the desire to create something intimately personal, all converge into the right moment and your soul knows it, not the eye.
Is it enough? ©MTHerzog
Aristotle affirms this by saying that the rational soul is what makes us human, elevating us above the vegetative or sensitive soul (instinctive). For soul photography this means that the image should transcend beyond a landscape and a smiling portrait.
James Hillman argues that the soul converts life into experiences that are communicated in love, faith, and death. By this precept, therefore, soul photography does not simply capture an event like wedding photography or birthday parties, but instead communicates the human role in the universe of intangible and tangled emotions.
Iyanla Vanzant points out, rightly so, that a soul is a unique imprint and no two souls can ever be identical. In the same manner, no two photographers can be judged to be identical in style and approach, and even less so if they belong to the soul photographer niche.
Deepak Chopra provides the visual image of the soul being a field of infinite possibilities and creativity. That is the essence of photography, and the foundation of soul photography. Infinity and beyond.
So if anyone asks again, FrogDiva Photography is all about bohemian soul photography.