I wanted to send out warmth, love and healing thoughts to the victims, families, and community at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard. Living within a stone’s throw of the gigantic ships of the Coast Guard, the Port of Oakland and the Alameda Naval Air Station, I’m always amazed by the people who serve our country on the seas and oceans around the world. I often stand in amazement of these wonderful metal beasts we’ve created. I imagine that it is not easy being on the seas in a desert of water. I couldn’t do it, and I appreciate those that do serve and sail, and make our world a more connected and beautiful place.
As we move forward from this newest tragedy, I hope we can begin to address our societal relationship with guns. From Sandy Hook to Columbine to Fort Bragg, guns have taken away so much from so many kind and gracious souls, fighters, and lovers. I understand that gun rights are a complex issue mired with constitutional rights, safety, freedom and societal responsibility. I also know there isn’t an elixir that will turn all our guns into flowers. I do hope we can continue to have conversations about how to disempower the firearm as a physical item as well as a symbol. I cannot fault music or TV or war or photography as industries.
Instead, what I can do [with all due respect to our military, peace officers and others with firearms] is to commit to myself that as a photographer I will never photograph a gun in an empowering, hip or exultingly manner that increases its power as a societal symbol of strength and power. I am in fact guilty of misusing a gun as a prop. I was poking fun at the faked “Palin in a swim suit with a gun” photo in a maternity shoot with my wife. My wife and I both found it humorous, as did many others. But now I can’t stand it anymore. It’s just not funny, because I believe that we would all agree that what makes that photo unique is the placement of a firearm with Palin of course.
So its time to change. No more “cool” photos with guns – I’d rather photograph art, love, and passion. Guns are lame.
I urge other photographers to do the same: Quit shooting guns. Become part of the solution. When someone asks you why – take it as an opportunity to talk about how guns don’t deserve to be celebrated.