Chris Murray is that classic blend of art and science. He started out as a geologist but has been practicing landscape photography professionally for the last 15 years. Here he talks about the difficulties of making your art your work, and how sometimes you just can’t help but want to turn back time. “Some Thoughts” is a written series on KorduroyTV with thoughtful people like you.
I spent the better part of last week in the Thousand Islands. While I stayed with my parents, who are retired and now live up there, the primary purpose of the trip was photography. As I am active in selling my work in the area there is a need for me to produce at least a few new photographs each year. The paradox, however, is that while the Islands are my favorite place, it is at the same time my least favorite place to photograph. There are several reasons for this, some simply logistical while others go deeper.
While growing up my best friend’s family and mine would rent cottages for a few weeks each summer on Hill Island, which is on the Canadian side of the river. Without a doubt those were the happiest times of my life, and I’m sure my friend would agree. It sounds cheesy to say but it was simply magical. Shear unadulterated joy from sunup to sundown. Trying to recapture and experience even a fraction of that feeling as an adult has proven elusive. The reasons are obvious and not unique, a consequence of age and circumstance. A classic case of you can never go home. But it’s more than that.
After I developed my passion for photography I resisted for years taking pictures while in the Islands. Doing anything professionally (or aiming for that) always results in a certain loss of innocence. I no longer take pictures solely for the sake of taking them. There is a business need now that makes it at times feel more like work. I’m quite certain professional golfers regard golf as work more than a game. It is their livelihood and as such requires endless practice and carries with it even more pressure. While growing up the Islands were a place of play and relaxation, I was reluctant to taint that with the pressure of having to produce beautiful photos of the region. With time my passion eventually got the better of me and I embarked down that road.
Driving around one evening last week with camera in tow I felt that frustration of being a stranger in a once familiar land. Sure, the lack of good light and consequently no worthwhile photos was part of it. Getting great shots always makes me feel better. But in this case I wanted something much more elusive than a great photograph. What I really wanted was to go back to that simpler time, sitting on the granite rock warmed by the afternoon sun, the smell of pine in the air, looking out over the beautiful St. Lawrence River, feeling free.
For more of Chris’s work, check out his website at http://www.chrismurrayphotography.com