Still Waters Run Deep: Exploring Autobiographical Significance in Photography

As a photographer, I often find myself drawn to subjects and themes that resonate with my childhood and adolescent experiences and memories. One such recurring theme in my photographic journey is the allure of boats and bodies of water. It is said that “still waters run deep,” and I believe this aphorism holds profound meaning when applied to the world of photography. It’s important to pay attention to our autobiographical pulls, pushes, and prompts in photography.

I was born in the picturesque town of Hyannis on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on January 3, 1954. My childhood home was just a short walk from Long Pond in South Yarmouth. Surrounded by water, it seemed almost inevitable that our family would have owned a boat, but we did not. This omission, as I would later realize, was likely due to my mother’s paralyzing fear of water and her limited swimming skills:)

I had the privilege of forging some life-long friendships with summer visitors, many of whom owned boats. It was during these formative years that I first discovered my fascination with boats and water. Looking back now, I realize that this fascination is not merely a coincidence but a reflection of the profound impact that my coastal upbringing had on my artistic sensibilities.

When I immerse myself in photographing boats, I am not just capturing images; I am revisiting and recalling the cherished memories of my carefree summer days. These memories are embedded in the crevices of my mind, waiting to resurface through the lens of my camera. Boats, with their graceful curves and strong vertical lines, represent a bridge between my past and present, invoking a sense of nostalgia that is both comforting and evocative.

Photography, for me, is a journey of self-discovery and expression. It is a visual diary that speaks volumes about who I am, where I come from, and what I hold dear. The recurring theme of boats in my work is a testament to the power of autobiographical elements in photography. It is crucial for any photographer to pay attention to these personal prompts, as they hold the key to unlocking deeper truths and unexpected realizations.

The notion of “still waters run deep” encapsulates the idea that beneath calm surfaces, profound depths can be found. Similarly, in photography, our autobiographical pulls often hide beneath the surface of our consciousness, waiting to be explored. When we heed these inner prompts and engage with subjects that hold personal significance, we unlock a wealth of untapped creativity and emotion.

As photographers, we are storytellers, and our stories are intrinsically linked to personal experiences. The law of attraction comes into play when we embrace our autobiographical pulls and weave them into our photographic narratives. Our audience can sense the authenticity and depth of emotion in our work, creating a powerful connection between the image and the observer.

In conclusion, “still waters run deep” is not merely an adage; it is a profound principle that extends to the realm of photography. Our autobiographical pulls, pushes, and prompts are valuable treasures waiting to be unearthed and shared through our art. By embracing these elements, we enrich our photography with authenticity, depth, and resonance. Just as still waters hold secrets beneath their serene surface, our autobiographical connections in photography can reveal the most profound truths and emotions, making our work all the more impactful and enduring.



Jack Hollingsworth