After every photography shoot, whether it’s a one hour walk through my town or a long product shoot, I enjoy the time immediately following it to reflect on what I’ve seen and photographed. I go over the images in my head thinking about how I’ll be working on them, excited for the darkroom if film has been use.
As I write this sitting in the Krakow airport, with an hour to think about what has just happened, there is something different going on. I’m returning home after spending 5 days in Oświęcim, staying directly across the street from the entrance to the Auschwitz I concentration camp and a very short distance from the Auschwitz II–Birkenau extermination, or death, camp. This trip has been like a slap across my face meant to wake me up about life and death, love and hate, and how my own actions, or inactions, have consequences over what can happen.
I came here with the intention of making photographs of these two camps, with a lifelong friend who joined me for 3 of my 5 days here. As the time grew shorter before this trip I started to have reservations. I over saturated myself with information about these places right before my trip and began to question the validity of my reason to come here. After all, who am I to try to make images of these places without a reason fitting of what happened. How would my photographs be different than the 1000’s that have been clicked…and what was I trying to accomplish.
Upon arriving I found myself alone, in the hotel room, seeing the entrance to Auschwitz I from my window, and I was shaking. It was late afternoon and I forced myself to go out and begin my exploration. My friend was arriving the following midday so I took this time alone to try and understand why I was here.
To be continued…