Impermanence, the concept that life is evolving from or advancing towards nothingness, has been at the core of my work since I began photographing over thirty years ago. Most people have difficulty embracing the inevitable, especially death, which is what often drives us towards religion or philosophy. I have also struggled with the unpredictability and fragility of life and have used the camera as a tool to study and embrace these undeniable characteristics of our existence. I find peace and acceptance when I discover visual examples of time’s transformations, especially the slow decay of what we humans have created, what we fantasize will last for eternity. There is a guilty pleasure when I use the camera to steal a moment from the inescapable. Even though I am fully aware that the photograph, the subject of the photograph and myself, the photographer, will eventually return to nothingness.
My creative process continues the same theme while also embracing a minimalist approach. I use one digital camera that has been converted to only photograph in black and white. This ensures an honest commitment to the black and white medium, just like using black and white film. I use only one prime lens. This narrows my vision and encourages my creativity by eliminating options and teaches me to except limitations. And finally, I make one, meticulously crafted photographic print. This forces me to let go of images, to except change and pushes me to continue to create new work. Making one print adds some much-needed respectability to the printed image, which is the essential piece of the photographic process. The printed image is the photograph, without it the image really doesn’t exist, it is just a bunch of pixels. It is the printed photograph that brings an image to life.
Carl Battreall, 2020