Tosin’s Images & Anecdotes (TIAA) is my self-assigned photography challenge of 2022. The immediate objective is to select one image from my inventory (a cityscape, landscape, portrait, oddity, etc.) each week and write something about it. This “something” could be the story behind the photo, a triggered memory in relation to the photo, or simply a reaction or reflection based on the subject matter featured. The long-term objective is to encourage myself to add more content to “La Vue Atypique”, which celebrates its first decade in publication this year.
What can I say about the photograph above?
I’m writing this entry on my last full day in the City of Lakes (a.k.a. Minneapolis). Roughly 36 hours from now, I’ll be on a return flight bound for the Emerald City (which, if you’ve followed this blog, or are already aware, is Seattle). My previous entry for TIAA gave me a chance to reconcile my relationship with my previous life here. This has proven to be cathartic.
In this entry, I’m simply celebrating with a photograph illustrating the subject matter I love to capture — the cityscape or urban landscape at night!
The detail that may not be readily recognizable is the human element. If you look very well, you’ll see a fellow who appears to behold the view on his own. Some may opine that he’s lonely or perhaps dejected. Personally, I see someone who is pensive, contemplative, and deep in his own thoughts.
I see so much of my own personality in that last observation. When I have the time, I can find a spot and just stare out towards any city, taking in all the beauty, completely entranced while enveloped in my thoughts. (By now, you also know I stand by the notion that a cityscape is a portrait of the “personality” of a city, of which many are quite beautiful or mesmerizing).
A former colleague who I had known in Minneapolis came to meet me for dinner in downtown Denver, where I was a graduate student at the University of Denver. After briefly asking about my activities, she stated something unexpected: “Tosin, you’re such a lone wolf.”
Back then, I wasn’t sure if she was judging me or just simply making an observation. Her tone, to me, sounded like judgement. I remember being silently caught off guard and resenting what she said. (I guess that means it felt like judgement). I didn’t ask for clarification because I already felt offended. We enjoyed our dinner that evening, but I never forgot the exchange.
Fast forward to today — several years older, wiser, and more mature — I don’t know why I was upset by the remark because she wasn’t wrong.
As a point of trivia, when I was considering a name for my photography business, a strong contender was “Lone Wolf Photography”. I avoided it because, at the time, it appeared to be used in different iterations.
When one of my mentors described how meticulously I execute my photography for all of my travels domestically and abroad, for each and every city, the response was “Tosin does this all by himself?” My mentor countered, “Yes! That’s how he does his work.”
I have always thought that was the perfect response to underscore how I operate TIA International Photography. Most of my work is performed independently, but it would be a remarkable lie to say I regret any of it. I’m not opposed to collaborations (with other photographers, for example), but I think my own work is best when I do it on my own. When I collaborate, I’m partially distracted because it’s very important to me that my partners are tended to, and content with the project’s progression. I have much less room for error and guesswork when working with others. When I’m on my own or given “carte blanche” to capture the subject matter — Okay! — I think that’s when my work is most profound. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few.
As a result, when I see someone sitting on her own, contemplative and deep in thought, I think it’s special and should not be disrupted. This is why, if you ever see a person in any of my cityscapes, it’s usually a lone individual who is facing the city with her or his back towards me 99% of the time.
This week’s entry for TIAA is the latest example.
Alas, this lone wolf bids you adieu from Minneapolis with another massive photography project awaiting back in Seattle (which I’ll share with you once it’s finally completed after so many years).
18 articles down for the TIAA challenge. 34 remain!