Panama Jack-Autobiographical Photographer

Having an “autobiographical” approach to photography typically means that the photographer, like myself, uses their own life experiences, perspectives, and personal history as the foundation and inspiration for their work. It involves creating photographs that reflect their own journey, emotions, and identity, resulting in a body of work that is deeply personal and introspective.

A photographer with an autobiographical approach would primarily focus on personal experiences, emotions, and narratives that are directly connected to their own life. They would capture moments and subjects that hold personal significance to them. In contrast, a photographer with a non-autobiographical approach might explore a wider range of subjects and themes, which may not be directly linked to their personal life.

The autobiographical photographer uses their work as a means of self-expression and self-reflection. They aim to convey their own unique perspective, emotions, and experiences through their photographs. On the other hand, a photographer with a non-autobiographical approach might have different intentions, such as documenting the world around them, telling stories of others, or exploring abstract concepts without a direct connection to their personal life.

An autobiographical photographer is deeply emotionally invested in their work. They draw upon their own experiences, memories, and feelings to create images that are infused with personal meaning. Their photographs often evoke a sense of intimacy and vulnerability. In contrast, a non-autobiographical photographer may have a more objective or observational approach, focusing on capturing scenes or moments without the same level of personal attachment.

An autobiographical photographer often seeks to establish a connection with the viewer based on shared emotions and experiences. Their work aims to evoke empathy, understanding, or introspection in the audience. Conversely, a non-autobiographical photographer might have different goals for audience engagement, such as informing, entertaining, or challenging the viewer’s perceptions.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Several years back, while working on this Panama City project, for a client, doing my best to deliver inspirational commercial work and, at the same time, when the moment struck, feeding, fueling, and fertilizing the fine-art side of my brain and heart, I was, as I remember clearly, in my emotional state, struggling, at the time, with thoughts and feeling of identity and security. Ouch.

So, as I have learned, from decades behind a camera, when the heart calls, even if it hurts…listen to its prompts, pulls and pushes.

For life, through its lens, is trying to tell us something about life, about love, about laughter.

I felt, at the time, looking back, with deep emotions, that I was experiencing some sort of liminality- a state of being “in-between” or existing on the threshold between two different conditions, states, or spaces.

How ironic, within this chaldron of emotion, I would be pointing my camera at picturesque doors and widows-the visual archetype of liminality.

Was I seeking a passage way in or out? Or was I stuck in-between?

In practical terms, the differences between a travel photographer, a fine-art photographer, and an autobiographical photographer can manifest in several ways.

A travel photographer may focus on capturing diverse locations, cultures, and experiences, documenting their journeys through vibrant and visually compelling images that showcase the beauty and uniqueness of various destinations. They may prioritize technical proficiency, research, and storytelling skills to create travel narratives that inform and inspire viewers.

Conversely, a fine-art photographer may emphasize artistic expression and creativity, often working on self-directed projects that explore abstract concepts, emotions, or themes. They may experiment with different techniques, styles, and unconventional subject matters, seeking to evoke thought-provoking and visually striking images that resonate on a more conceptual or aesthetic level.

On the other hand, an autobiographical photographer may draw inspiration from their own life experiences and personal history, creating photographs that reflect their journey, emotions, and identity. They may focus on storytelling through self-portraits, capturing intimate moments and using symbolism to convey their inner thoughts and experiences, aiming to evoke empathy and create a deep emotional connection with the viewer.

While each photographer’s practical approach may differ, they all share a passion for photography while channeling their unique perspectives and intentions into their work.



Jack Hollingsworth