I was rereading issue #66 of Lenswork Magazine and came across Bill Jay’s short discussion of why he photographs. Although this is a difficult question for anyone to answer, I think that if you were to ask other artists what compels them to create, after some thought, I doubt that their answers would be much different.
For years a friend of Jay’s has been puzzled by his devotion to photography. When she asks why he photographs, he can't provide an answer that isn't ”empty” and ”untruthful.” But later when he's out with his camera, he finds the answer. Were she there at that moment he would answer:
”Look...this is life. It is everywhere, and it is here for the taking. I am alive and I know this, now, in a more profound way than when I am doing anything else.”
What a masterful respomse. The artist is most alive, most aligned, and most connected while creating their art. For some of us, it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. For others, it’s what gets us through the week to the weekend. That time of creation is the most important time of all.
While reading Jay’s comment, I was reminded of a scene from The Fast and the Furious. Despite the rest of the franchise devolving quickly into GI Joe meets Hot Wheels, particularly after Paul Walker’s death, this first film is one that I think will stand the test of time. In it, there's a scene where Dom, played by Vin Diesel, is showing his father’s car to Paul Walker’s character Brian. Dom’s father died in a racing accident, and Dom carries the guilt of permanently injuring the driver who caused the crash. In a moment of intimacy that we don't find in any of the other films, (the clip is below) he confesses his motivation for racing to us by saying ” I live my a life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters, not the mortgage, not the store, not my team ... For those 10 seconds or less, I'm free.”
That's the artist’s spirit.