Stephen Mosher On The Final Days
Five months ago I announced that I was putting my cameras away. This announcement was met with a variety of responses, the most frequent one being light-hearted teasing like “what again?” – a reaction that seemed designed to 1) hurt me and 2) make fun of me. Fortunately, this year I was able to learn how to not take things personally. So that response fell on deaf ears. The other responses ranged from support to sadness, from indifference to anger. People asked me how I could give up my art, others joked that “you’ll be back behind the camera in two weeks” and my husband waited until he heard me say those words, and then he accepted my decision and my resignation.
It no longer brings me joy.
I have always loved being a photographer. I love the process, the lighting, the beauty, the resulting artwork. But I have grown. I’ve changed. I’m different now. I have to allow the new me to go out and find his way. This has been my path for a long time; it is his turn now.
So I have spent these last few months going through my computer and cleaning files off the hard drive. All the digital photos and scans of old photos and negatives have been moved to discs and hard drives and stored where I can get to them when I need them. The photos around the house have been placed in albums. The files have been deleted from the computer. And in the process of doing this cleanup I have taken time out to, daily, share photos from my life with a camera in my hands. That has been a fun process.
I’ve had time to look back on 37 years of photography. I’ve looked at my earliest work of art – a photo of my high school friend Lisa Triplet lying on a beach on a cold sunny spring day. I’ve looked at my most recent work of art — Insert Name of Recent photographic subject here, and there have been so many lately. I’ve marveled at some of the stories I’ve been privileged to tell and some of the beauty I’ve been honored to capture. I’ve swelled with pride over the moments I’ve stopped for families and the memories I’ve capture for people feeling love. I admit that I cried a little when compiling the Jennifer Houston collection of photos. And I felt sadness while scanning art I made with people who have left me – Nancy LaMott, David Campbell, David Schmittou and AJ Triano. It has been an emotional five months of looking back, of reflecting, of feeling.
But this is the only way to close this book properly.
The time has come for me to be perfectly clear: this is not a ruse. This is no fly by night decision made in haste. My cameras will be on hand for me to make photos on Christmas Day, when my husband needs me to or when I visit my mother and father. Otherwise, two things and two things, only, will cause me to pick up my camera: money and Diane Lane. And, if I can be more specific, a lot of money or a celebrity that I always wanted to photograph and didn’t get to – and Diane Lane is the top of the list. Others on that list include Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli, Gale Harold… and a handful more. In my life I have tried to make art and I have tried to make a difference, and all I have, successfully, made is myself unhappy. Now all I want to make is money or merry or both. That is where I stand on this, the final day. There will be one last shoot tonight, New Year’s Eve, the results of which will be shared online tomorrow, New Year’s Day 2018. But for now…
It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life. Isn’t that what the song says?
My life behind the camera has brought me as much joy and as much pain as the life of an artist should have. I could not have withstood more pain, and while the joy I have had could have been compounded, what I have had will do. I’ve done my time. I don’t work this shift anymore. But I will remember and appreciate all of the adventures and all of the faces.
Sometimes, in the cool grey of the dawn, I will raise my face to the light and remember when it was that which both shone the way and created the shadows that would burn onto film and into my mind, creating an impression for the future that will remain, forever, unforgettable.