From the blog

Jordan Oram explains why every photographer is unique

A few weeks ago, Jordan and I sat down over skype and had a little chat. That skype was meant to be the beginning of a photo essay for Cloudhead. It turned into a 2-part series about photography, collaboration, historical and cultural changes in human beings.

Just the Essentials -- Revelstoke, British Columbia

Just the Essentials — Wakefield Beach, British Columbia

You might know Jordan from G+. He’s all over the photographer community there. Or on Jordan’s Facebook page. Or maybe you know him from Wandering Educators, where he’s the photography and outdoor adventures editor. Or maybe you’ve heard of him traveling through your town. Or through a collaboration or… Yes, Jordan is everywhere.

Here, we have part one of The Jordan Oram Manifesto from a corner suite in Vancouver.

Eastbound and Down -- Trans-Canada Highway, Heading to Winnipeg

Eastbound and Down — Trans-Canada Highway, Heading to Winnipeg

It’s important to be aware that every photographer, every person has something to say that no one else can say.  Where you are, is unique. When you are, is unique. Who you are, is unique.

Where you walk right now, the vast majority of the world’s population will never set foot. Of those few who will step where you step now, the world will have changed around them. Leaves open, flowers bloom, clouds drift, the light changes. The streets get wet with rain or watering or festivals. They get scorched with the dry rays of summer sun. It all changes. That building is being built up. That building is being torn down. That car is parked there. That parking space is empty. Our world is dynamic and in flux. Realize this, and you can see it everywhere, slowly.

Think of how fast or slow we appear to move, to a hummingbird.

Think of how fast or slow we appear to move, to a tree.

Think of how fast or slow we would appear to move to a mountain, that could see.

It’s important to be aware that every photographer, every person has something to say that no one else can say.  Where you are, is unique. When you are, is unique. Who you are, is unique.

This world is in flux. It is dynamic. This photograph that you are about to take, can never be taken again.

My parents changed their backyard. I can never take a picture of what that backyard used to look like before they changed it. You’ll never see it now. That was a unique time and place that is no longer. Plus you’re not likely to get into my parent’s backyard. Who I am, where I am, the relationships I have, and the things I see, are part of me and my vision. They permeate my photographs and are different than your photographs. Were you in this time and this place, able to look around, compose and frame, and take a picture, it would be different than mine.

 'End of the Day' - Blaeberry Valley, British Columbia

‘End of the Day’ – Blaeberry Valley, British Columbia

This is what other’s could look back and say was our style, our vision, our eye. I’d say don’t stress about that, go out and look and see and shoot the things that you notice. My dad sees lines. You see a lot of lines in his work. He sees lines where I see concepts in juxtaposition. I’ll shoot nature and human creation intermingling in a scene where he spent 10 minutes taking pictures of the shadows and lines on a park bench.

What we’ve experienced, what we notice, and who we are, gives us access to scenes and ideas that no one else will see because they are not in our heads. No one else could have done what you can do, where you are, and when you are.

Once you realize how unique you are, in that exact moment, then you know without a doubt that what you see is really amazing and wonderful.

You have the opportunity to share that with others.

This is the introduction to all my photography classes.

Unparalleled  moments from a window in a corner suite in Vancouver

I could not have made this elsewhere. This is a unique set of moments from a unique place on a unique day. I was able to take these photos because I happened to be in Vancouver for a week without having a place to stay. I was offered a corner bedroom to stay in on a tenth floor apartment because a friend’s friend’s roommate had just moved out, and she, having hung out with me a few days earlier with our mutual friend, welcomed me to converse, share stores and ideas, and to hangout for as many days as I wanted. This may seem odd to you because you are not me, or also haven’t met me or seen me interact with people and share stories, stoke, and awesomeness. My friends will chuckle upon hearing this story and think of it as another one of those ‘Jordan’ things.

What we’ve experienced, what we notice, and who we are, gives us access to scenes and ideas that no one else will see, because they are not in our heads. No one else could have done what you can do, where you are, and when you are.

You have your own unique opportunities.

Yes, I talk about this in the introduction to all my photography classes, but it doesn’t require a camera for each of us to raise awareness of our unique place in history and existence. All of us have this ability, and the more you are aware of the power of your own lives in the exact moment, and aware that you have control over your own choices, the more you will engage in the world, and the more you can engage in your own life in powerful, pertinent, ways.

Presenting photography through this philosophy allows the camera to be just a bit less intimidating. You can see it practically. It’s also not just philosophy, because even if you don’t think of yourself as a particularly philosophical or intellectual person, you can still relate.

Did you love what you read here? Next week, we’ll publish part two of this discussion. We’ll talk about collaboration, ways to foster creativity within your community and talk about your artistic projects. You’ll even have a chance to contact Jordan directly about working and collaborating with him.

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