Different but similar

imageDifferent, but similar, Woodbury, Connecticut © Steven Willard

As photographers we often think of ourselves as a somewhat unified group; we’re photographers. It’s a silly notion that reveals itself with only a moments thought. Photography covers so many things and we can’t all be interested in all of them. Perhaps when it was a young medium things were different, back when a photograher coated his own wet plates or paper, and it was mostly about the process. Today however, literally everyone carries a camera if they carry a phone. We photographers can’t be expected to have similar interests or points of view any more than all 1.2 billion members of the Roman Catholic church hold the same views on planned parenthood or women as priests.

Sometimes, however, we meet people, other photographers, with whom we feel an immediate connection. We sense, even without words, that we share something in common. Kurt Vonnegut, in the novel “Cat’s  Craddle” coined the word “karass” as a name for such connected groups, and it has stuck. It’s the difference between belonging to a club or church, where you feel you really have nothing in common with most of the other members, and having a deep, meaningful conversation with a complete stranger and feel you have known that person for years. As photographers we sometimes recognize a fellow traveler by how they see and photograph the world even if their world is vastly different from our own; we share a karass. It’s a cosmic thing I don’t understand, and certainly can’t explain, but you know it when you experience it. It is a connection that transcends our understanding, a connection between wildly divergent ways of seeing and experiencing the world.

Olympus OMD EM5 with 20mm f1.7 Panasonic lens.



2 comments on “Different but similar

  1. We speak the same language. I see it in your image. The content/experience could be anything, but the way that you interpret and process, is my language, my aesthetic. I recognise your sense of tight composition and structure. I am at one with your sense of colour, even though I spell it differently. I see and identify the need to contain your image with a vignette. We share a view that images are made and not just taken.
    I am happy to share the same karass with you Steven, after all we even use the same camera!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your generous and thoughtful comment. To tell the truth I wasn’t sure what sort of response I’d get, if any. Yours clearly indicates to me that I’m not alone, and if for no other reason, thanks again.


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