As a career photographer, having held a camera in my hands since 1975, my purposes in photography, sometimes crystal clear and other times cloudy as mud, have, more often than not, been autobiographical in both nature and nurture. Click.

Taking an autobiographical approach to photography means using the medium of photography to express and document one’s personal experiences, perspectives, and identity.

It involves creating photographs that reflect a photographer’s own life, thoughts, emotions, and memories, often resulting in a deeply personal and introspective body of work and corpus.

When photographers adopt an autobiographical approach, as I do, they often focus on subjects and themes that are intimately connected to their own lives. They may explore their personal history, relationships, cultural background, social issues they care about, or their own journey of self-discovery. This approach allows photographers, of every age and stage, to communicate their unique stories and perspectives, offering viewers a window into their personal world.

Autobiographical photography can take various forms and styles, depending on the photographer’s artistic vision. Some photographers may capture candid moments from their daily lives, presenting unfiltered glimpses into their personal experiences. Others may construct carefully composed images that symbolically represent their inner thoughts and emotions. The use of self-portraits or images that incorporate personal objects or significant locations is also common in autobiographical photography.

By adopting an autobiographical approach, photographers aim to convey their individuality, explore their own identity, and connect with others on a personal level.

It is a way to create a visual narrative that speaks directly from their own lived experiences, inviting viewers to empathize, reflect, and engage with the photographer’s unique perspective on the world.

Musicians often draw from their own lives when writing songs, exploring themes such as love, heartbreak, personal growth, social issues, and introspection. They use lyrics, melodies, and harmonies to capture the essence of their experiences and connect with their audience on an emotional level. In a similar way, photographers who adopt an autobiographical approach use visual elements such as composition, lighting, subject matter, and symbolism to communicate their personal stories and evoke emotions.

Both photography and music have the ability to transcend language barriers and evoke powerful responses in viewers and listeners. When artists create work that is deeply rooted in their own lives, it often resonates with others who can relate to similar experiences or emotions. By sharing their personal journeys and emotions through their art, both photographers and musicians can create a sense of connection, empathy, and understanding among their audience.

This is exactly why, for someone like myself, who takes an autobiographical approach to photography, I’m more attracted to and obsessed with the “Why-to” rather than the “How-to” of photography.

I want my photographs to reflect and represent what is going on inside me.

Yes, of course, at some level, photography, by its very nature, is both technical and mechanical.

But it’s much more than that. Photography is emotional, lyrical, beautiful, and autobiographical.

If art grows out of the heart, then it’s crucial and critical to connect, emotionally, to the nuanced “click and tick” of photography.

A few weeks back, early in the morning, after my first cup of coffee, while photographically wandering around the Harwich Port Boatyard, I came across the name of a sailboat called “Who”.

To most casual photographers, this was nothing more than an opportunity for a quick snapshot.

But for me, as an autobiographical photographer, it was a confronting life question, who am I?

The obvious and easy response, based on my birthright and family connections, was simple and straightforward. I am a son and a brother. But I’m also an ex-husband, friend, traveler, explorer, and world citizen.

I am also a photographer, creative, influencer, storyteller, and co-collaborator in the circle of life and photography.

As you do, I wear many hats and faces.

Most importantly, I’m a human being-warts, with pimples, wrinkles, shortcomings, insecurities, and all. And I am glad to be alive.

Who are you?


Jack Hollingsworth