Reinterpretation of old images is mostly a futile exercise. All it does is expose you to your shortcomings. On the other hand, you are suddenly made aware of the progress you have made as a photographer.
When I look back, this is one of the images that proved to be crucial in my development as a photographer. I didn’t quite know it at that time, but when I made this image in Japan in 2017, I was creating a template of color and composition. And it was also a point in time when I realized that, for me, making photographs meant listening to my emotions and feelings.
So another way to think about the reinterpretation of an image is that it reflects your inner self on a shifting scale of time. In an earlier time, the same image was a bit more brooding and darker, perhaps capturing something of my internal experience. I was looking at the previous interpretation, and I recalled the darkness within me at that time. I was grieving over the loss of my life’s work.
Today, the demons of that time have been relegated to the past. Through careful deliberations, conversations with elders and philosophers, I have come to realize that life, work, and our real reasons for existing are part of a continuum. To continuously evolve, one doesn’t need to dwell on the past, which has a way of making one feel like a prisoner. Instead, one has to live in the present and experience it to the fullest, while simultaneously imagining the possibilities of the future.
I would be the first to admit that none of this is as easily done as these words might make it seem. I have been on this journey before. After nearly dying, I promised myself that I wouldn’t dwell on the outcomes and instead focus on choices and make the best effort to live in the present. Despite being well aware that “happiness is knowing that the present is reality and the future is a gift,” it is easy to lose one’s way and wander into the illusory forest of control.
This lack of control has hit us in the face during this pandemic. We might know the how and the why of the current crisis, but the real lesson is that, even with the best-laid plans, we don’t ultimately control what the universe decides. So, enjoy the moment.
That darker photo from four years ago has been replaced by a new photographic representation of my current inner self. Ironically, it didn’t take much to get it right: a new crop to eliminate extraneous elements, higher luminosity to reflect a brighter disposition, and the removal of some brooding clouds. In the end, there is a silver lining to everything. Right?
April 25, 2020, San Francisco.