minimalist landscape eccentric circles on the salton sea beach by Johnny Kerr
Eccentric / California, 2017

Finding the confidence to present new work that I’m not sure people will like is one of the difficult parts of being an artist. It’s not that I am motivated by what people will or won’t like, otherwise I’d just photograph sunsets and kittens. What I am motivated by is the search for unexpected beauty in the mundane, and working out how to share it with others in ways that are unique and authentic to me. However, I still have to contend with feelings of rejection when I put something out there and very few people respond to it.

In my six years of practicing photography, I’ve learned to trust my instincts. There were times, early on, when I saw a potential image but convinced myself that there was probably nothing there. Those missed opportunities never sat well with me. I always regretted having talked myself out of at least making an attempt, usually after the moment had passed and I no longer had the option of giving it a shot. Today, if I feel even the slightest peak in my curiosity, I pursue it. Especially when it’s spontaneous. This scene was one such incident.

This image is likely more minimalist than many people are used to. It may be beyond the attention span of the average social media browser, so I’m not really expecting it to get a lot of feedback when I post it. But that’s okay. It holds my interest, and maybe a few others will appreciate its abstract subtlety. If not, I’m content to have been inspired. I’m happy that I stopped long enough to appreciate and attempt to capture what I thought was unique and beautiful.

My photograph is about line and movement. I enjoy its colors and softness. I find it calming. I also like that it was a fleeting moment; if you were to go back to to this same beach right now, the circles in the sand would be gone. That moment only lives in my photograph now. After finishing and reflecting on my image, I decided on Eccentric as my title. The meaning is twofold: First, the circles on the beach are eccentric, rather than concentric (i.e., they don’t share a common center). Secondly, I can’t count how many times people have used the word “eccentric” to describe me to others.

I used to scratch my head at being labeled an eccentric. I don’t feel like I’m out on the fringe. I feel like a rather ordinary person with an average and uneventful life: I go to work all week, walk my dogs, mow my lawn on the weekends, go to church, raise my daughter, work out, pay my bills, and occasionally binge watch a show on Netflix. In-between these moments, I also read poetry and literature, write, play Irish folk music, go to art museums, galleries and live music venues, make art, and whatever else I can find that makes life more fulfilling. I don’t think these things are all that eccentric. Yet, when I meet new people or have conversations with acquaintances and colleagues, I quickly see that I don’t have most of these things in common with others. When I show my photographs to new people, they often don’t understand why I’m doing what I’m doing.

So, maybe I am somewhere on the eccentric spectrum, if such a thing exists. But I’m not afraid of that. Diversity is one of the most beautiful characteristics of humanity. We enrich each other most when we can confidently and authentically share ourselves without the fear of fitting into some imagined concept of “normal.” I am sharing this image with the faith that, even if it’s not well-received, I’m being true to who I am as an artist and that will eventually pay dividends in some way. If nothing else, I’m thickening my skin and learning to thrive without consistent validation.