Pursuit of Happiness

Historically photographs have served as tangible documents or memories, usually of significant moments from our daily lives such as vacations, birthdays, weddings and other rites of passage. We tend to use photography as a way to not only document these moments, but to construct and shape them as joyful occasions worthy of remembering. The family photographer composes the scene carefully to include the most significant landmarks and events while encouraging a uniformity of smiling faces despite the disparate range of temperaments and states of mind. These constructed images serve as implanted memories, which allow us to remember past events with fondness, warmth and nostalgia for a time and state of being that never truly existed. Certainly our lives do in fact include inspiring and happy memories, but the photographs can never quite capture the essence of those moments adequately, and more importantly they purposefully attempt to mask any sign of melancholy, uncertainty or fear for the future that is often the subtext during these life changing events. We casually ignore any disconcerting elements or emotions that might be lurking in the background as a distraction from our higher truth of the moment as we’d like to remember it.

In the 21st century that process has evolved into a more instantaneous method of validating and sharing those otherwise personal and intimate moments. If we don’t photograph it and instantly post it online we feel as if it didn’t really happen. Now, as in the past, the photograph serves not only as documentation and validation, but also as a fictional idealized version of our lives. The difference now is that we are less focused on the most significant moments from our personal history, but instead feel compelled to document and promote relatively insignificant moments, such as our daily adventures in shopping, meals, and posing in front of every ephemeral landmark that crosses our path.

The photographs from this series are all taken from my daily life, and are no less fictional and deliberate than the average family photo, and equally as banal as the average Instagram post. However, my intent has been to capture scenes and situations that evoke existential dilemmas and force me to question my place within the social structure and the environment at large. Most of these photos are taken not as deliberately staged scenes that attempt to create a body of work, but are simply captured extemporaneously as they present themselves, usually within the context of relaxing or performing the mundane tasks of being a homeowner and father living the American Dream. Although these scenes are generally peaceful, I carefully choose my compositions to reveal the underlying sense of foreboding and angst that I often feel during my own futile attempt at the pursuit of happiness.

It’s about documenting my personal life.  It’s about noticing the beauty of light, color and texture in the ordinary.  It’s about finding common visual and thematic threads running through a focused stream of consciousness that is my daily practice of observation.

It’s about searching for meaning.  It’s about a sad and beautiful world.  It’s about memory and loss and nostalgia for happier times that never really existed.

It’s about growing up and losing your innocence.  It’s about growing old and facing your mortality.  It’s about a vague feeling of uneasiness lurking behind every joyful occasion.

It’s about worrying about the future.  It’s about watching nature destroy everything that humans try to create.  It’s about the zeitgeist of late capitalism and the looming consequences of climate change.

It’s about existential angst.  It’s about struggling with depression.  It’s about celebrating the moment, but knowing that it’s not real and it won’t last anyway.

It’s about telling it like it is.  It’s about stealing ideas from everyone else and making them my own.  It’s about expressing myself and not giving a shit what anyone else thinks, but hoping that I’m not alone in my feelings.

It’s about being a homeowner.  It’s about the pursuit of happiness.  It’s about examining the American Dream through the mediation of images carefully selected from a personal narrative.

It’s about all these things… living in a beautiful home, having hope for the future, the  feeling of security and comfort of loving friends and family….all the things I wish I had.