Photographer problems: the dilemma between art & life

By: Andrea Sarcos

Having a camera in hand has given me the opportunity to experience a wide variety of events in my life. From lovely weddings and documenting newborns to a candlelight vigil honoring victims of violent crimes, the list goes on and on.

Objectivity enables me to work efficiently, capturing moments that others are experiencing and sharing. It offers me a reprieve from the obligation to participate in events that I’m not emotionally, politically or ethically in favor of. It saves me from the awkward moments where I don’t know what to do. I’ll just hold up my camera and shoot.

As a photojournalist for The Independent Florida Alligator and The Gainesville Sun, I was always active in getting the best shots with an interesting angle in the most timely manner. Being a portrait and event photographer for my own business, I have to try my best to positively portray my subjects and artistically capture life events. As a fine art photographer, I have to reconsider and analyze problems that I face and materialize my ideas in conceptual ways. As a photo director for Orange & Blue Magazine, I have to collaborate with writers in producing the best images for their articles.

But when it comes to the candid moments of life, I just want to blend in like everyone else.

This past summer gave me a valuable lesson. It’s okay to not try to photograph every experience, but rather to live in the fleeting moment, and most importantly, to connect with others.

I studied abroad for one month in May and backpacked alone in June. I was welcomed to stay in six different homes in the cities of London, Marseille, Barcelona, Stuttgart, Berlin and Basel for the last month. Each city offered a different way of life and created memories of new faces.

I thought a lot about the purpose of my trip. I wasn’t there to be published in a magazine or newspaper. I wasn’t being paid by someone or told what I could and couldn’t shoot. Sometimes I left my camera at home so that I wouldn’t be tempted, although the feelings of regret would often creep into my mind.

I was there to live, to travel, to mend my heartbreak, to learn new languages, to make new friends and do crazy things. I can remember so many little moments in clearer detail because I relished in my senses. It was like using years of photography lessons to create mental photographs.

I held my best friend’s hand, gripping it tightly, as we jumped off of a boulder, screaming at the top of our lungs, into the chilly Mediterranean off of the coast of Marseille. I could smell the salt water, taste the juicy peach we ate and feel the warmth of the sunset while lounging topless on a tiny deserted island we kayaked to.

This moment among countless others colored my summer with incredible experiences. When I close my eyes, I can select and view each mental picture as if it were on my memory card. Of course, I did take some photographs with my camera, but I didn’t lose myself in trying to capture each experience. Since being back in Gainesville, I’m learning to find a balance of living in and documenting moments.

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