Where the Cold Wind Blows — Confronting Fears for Photography

Where the Cold Wind Blows

Where the Cold Wind Blows
Camera: Smena 8M
Film: Ilford HP5 (x-1/81); 100iso
Process: HC-110; 1+100; 1:00
Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

For the longest time, I thought that I was afraid of heights. And I am. But there’s something else going on too. L’appel du vide – The call of the void. It’s the desire to jump from high places. It’s, of course, not a suicidal thought. It’s got nothing at all to do with death (that would be the desire to land after jumping from a high place – l’appel du vide isn’t about landing, it’s about jumping – there’s a huge difference).

A few different studies and papers have been written about this, and they’re all interesting. It is, apparently, an actual disorder. But it’s not a horrible one, really. It is, according to one conclusion, affirming the urge to live. Another suggests that we just love the thrill of it all.

Personally, I’ll side with the first. So while I do still have acrophobia, I also have what they’re uninspiringly calling “high place phenomenon.” Or, as we might better say, tempted by l’appel du vide – the call of the void – which is, I guess, not as accurate.

Anyway, photography always takes me to some incredibly high places, sometimes forcing me to climb wooden ladders up 200 foot cliffs just to look around. I’d like to think that I’d still do these things if photography wasn’t a thing, and maybe I would, but at least photography gives me an excuse to confront my fears.

Thanks, photography!

PS- when you’re climbing up a ladder such as this, only bring small cameras – like the Smena 8M.


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