Last year, I crashed my hard drive and lost most of my images. That was an accident. Josh White purposefully deleted mostly all of his images…intrigued, I sent him a few questions.
Josh please tell us a bit about yourself
I was a law student in Toronto, Canada before packing stuff up and heading to Korea 5 years ago. I've been mostly here ever since. Started photography here, and really became serious after getting an old Leica Digilux 2 in a local camera store and using that to photograph the streets of the small town I lived in at the time as I walked to work.
Where in the world are you located?
Just outside of Seoul at the moment!
How long have you been a photographer for?
I've been taking photos for about 5 years.
What did photography mean to you?
Photography? Photography is just a way of self expression like any other art form. To me, my photos should say as much about me as what I'm photographing. I want the viewer to be implicit as perhaps I hope I can inject myself back into these moments when I look back at my photos later on in life.
So you deleted all of your images….in scientific terms that's called being ballsy. Why did you do it?
Well, to be fair I deleted everything aside from the final cut negatives of two projects I had recently worked on. One, following a tattoo family in Toronto and the other photographing my home province of Newfoundland. I deleted everything else aside from those and 40 odd photos in my Lightroom. I kept some photos of friends and family on my phone. As for negatives, I cut the negatives out from the two projects, put them in a binder and threw out the rest. Ballsy? Most people said it was stupid, ha.
Most people told me I should have just kept them aside for a rainy day; bought a hard drive for safe keeping and forgot about them. I wasn't after a symbolic white slate for a literal one. It wasn't a matter of not wanting people to see my old photos as much as a matter of me wanting to step forward. Some people said I should have kept them as a reminder of where I came from and what I learned. Why? Do you keep all of your old text books from grade school? Maybe some do. I don't have enough space for such things.
How do you feel now that you started from scratch? Any regrets (be honest!)
As for regrets, no, I honestly don't have any. I never do. It's not in my make up. I come across as whiny on my blog and probably mostly due to the fact that I am. One thing I never do, is regret. I haven't thought about the photos since aside from being asked about why I did it. In terms of prevention, I suppose I could have been a better photographer from the beginning? Most importantly, I should have decided far more early on that cameras really don't mean anything. I once have 40 grand worth of Leica gear sitting on my floor before a trip to Japan and was angry about having a hard time figuring out what to take. I'll shoot with whatever camera I have.
I don't buy any anymore, just what people give me I take and use or borrow or whatever. There is no such thing as a camera for a situation no matter what anyone says. We've gotta figure out how to impose our will into whatever we are using and make a photo. I've basically started axing everyone from my social media who says anything to do with a camera they wish they had. It's ridiculous. Sorry to have gotten off topic, but it really pisses me off. Maybe mostly do to the fact that it took me so long to figure it out. Maybe there was no prevention and I'm not sure there should have been. All part of the curve.
Well, what I have found out is that the more you make photos, the less gear seems attractive and vice versa. What does photography mean to you now?
I don't know how to really answer what photography means to me now. I'll just say I think this Jacob Aue Sobol quote says it better than I could:
“I made a decision that to me, photography had to be something that I could feel. I could feel in my stomach. I could not take pictures that were not connected to my own inner life.”
And aside from that, my friend Neil Ta recently quoted me in a lecture he gave at the University of Toronto:
“In the end, even if we've taken s**t photos, it will be the friendships we made that are the most important.”
I only said it in passing, but he wrote it down. I'm glad he did as it pretty much describes what I feel about photography.
Do you find your photography any different?
My photography is always different and always evolving. It should be no other way.
Any closing comments?
Thanks dude, appreciate the chance to talk.
About the author
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