I was thinking recently about the best photographs I’ve ever made. Images pulled from the depths of my archive. Frames you could only ever dream about. The sort of thing you just barely catch flickers of as you drift off to sleep at night.
The best photographs I’ve ever taken are from way back, when I was only 6 or 7 years old. I remember well how the various family cameras would be used on holidays or key occasions. Coming back from holiday, there’d sometimes be a spare roll or two of film lying around. So I’d use it all up.
But those rolls never got developed. And I have no idea what I made with them. I just have that feeling, that childish curiosity about the world, and that total indifference to making something that would fit any concept, demand, brief, or trope.
They’re frames you can only dream about because they don’t exist in any form other than memory. Like some kind of strange reversal of what photographs are often thought to be for. Instead of taking a photograph to record a memory, my memory recalls having taken the photograph.
And the first time I shot a roll like that, I didn’t know that the rolls wouldn’t get developed. But even when I’d learned the lack of outcome, I still persisted. I don’t know why, I just know what I did. Or some of it.
They’re the best photographs I’ve ever taken, because they were about absolutely nothing other than the act of taking them.
It’s a feeling I try to find again every time I pick a camera up.