Stephen Mosher On Stopping Time
Today is January First. In spite of many peoples’ firm skepticism, today is my last day as an artist. I will put down my cameras and my pen and cease to create, in order that I might be able to focus time on my family and my life. For five months I have been thinking about the last 37 years with a camera in my hands. My mother gave me a Yashica when I was 16. Then there was a Pentax. After that, five or six Minoltas. There was an Olympus. There was a Sanyo. There are three Canons. I’ve been making photos with these cameras for nearly four decades. Even when I stopped working for 18 months after The Sweater Book failed, I still used the cameras in my daily life, I still took photos of friends and family. Those cameras have been the extension of my hand and of my eyes. During those 18 months, when I watched Under the Tuscan Sun and the Polish workers took photos of their goodbye moment with Franscesca, I cried. I missed my art. Whenever I see certain moments in the movie Stepmom, I feel an unspoken validation for what I have spent my life doing. Each time I walk into the homes of people who have a photo I made framed and on display, I feel I have done something with my life.
I have stopped time.
For the rest of their lives, people will look at a moment I captured for them and they will remember what they felt on that day. When they are gone, others will look at that photo and see the story of that person’s life. Strangers will see photos I made and see a little piece of history, both general and personal. The photos will keep the models, those people, my subjects young and beautiful forever. Even after they are dead, their stories will be told, their faces seen and their memories kept alive. There will be people who don’t remember my name, some who never knew my name and most who won’t care about me. But I’ll be there. I will have been the person to keep their person alive forever. I will have made the magic that kept them beautiful forever. I will have been the teller of the tale and the preserver of the past. My name matters, not one bit. All that is important is the art created, the story it tells and the emotion it evokes. I have absolutely no ego attached to my art, my work, my life… no investment in the past 37 years except for joy for the journey and elation in the execution.
I don’t know if I will miss my life in the arts. And, unless some extraordinary offer comes along to which I cannot say no, I will not return to it. I have a new life now and it’s enough.
And sometimes, in the cool grey of the dawn, I will hear, far away, the distant echo of the voices behind the faces that I have kept young, beautiful and alive forever.
The day that I stopped time.