As a creative, I feel as if I move back and forth through time. The first decade of my career was spent creating images that I saw through the lens of Shakespeare and all of his tragedies. Genocide, Apartheid, war zones and famine, all took center stage and consumed the last of my innocence.
Yes, the sponge of my life was full, and my cerebral hard drive became stacked with walls of cord wood that only spoke to my PTSD. I had a lot of memories to burn down, and even more ashes to sift through as I sought to reconcile with my past and all that I had witnessed. It became apparent that I was now in search of spiritual awakening, and I returned again to the only soul language that I knew. My pursuit, my passion, in those subsequent years birthed me into a heart of yearning, as I photographed multiple essays on religious pilgrimage, disappearing traditions and expressions of devotion. My lens, my eyes had turned, and I was driven through my work to share the beauty and the majesty of so many poetic culture’s, as they attempted to move with grace through our troubled times.
I would then become conscripted and consumed into our environment, our climate and the future of our world. In this pursuit, I explored twenty four stories over a twenty year period of time. I visited the ice bears from the melting tundra of our north, and I carved my way through frozen canyon’s of ice in Antarctica. All of our collective humanity is caught within these two extremes, and we need the unified voice of our world now more than ever to solve this looming crisis. My contribution hangs from the pixels and the grain of my images, it’s all I have to offer, and it’s all that I am. In my thirty years on the road, my work came to define me, and all of my self worth came from inside the soul of my camera. I chose this profession, and I gave it my entire life. Difficult as it has been, many of these stories stripped the marrow from my bones. They had to, it was the only way to see from inside the photograph. The openness of my heart was my only spiritual offering, and I consider this essential when it comes to creating an image. Our humanity, our animals, our landscapes and the beauty of our natural world have given me the privilege of sharing the stories of their lives with our planet. I am and will always be deeply, deeply honored to testify on behalf of what I’ve seen. They have entrusted me with the sacredness of their lives, and I am blessed with every image that I have received.
While still consumed with my stories about the environment, I found myself sitting across the aisle from a delightful young girl on one of my many planes. We never spoke a word, but her actions cleared the sky of clouds, and she innocently became part of a new rising future. That year was 2012, and I can still see her in my mind, as she fluently dodged and burned her little chihuahua from the screen of her iPhone. When I returned to my studio that night, I took out a recent photograph I’d made of Robert Kennedy Jr., and I left it on the glass of my table. I knew then that my creativity needed to move in another direction, and this meant the assimilation of a new language. The image ultimately had another destination, and after a few lifeless weeks of collecting dust, it began to resonate with a different frequency. I changed the radio station, and drove to the hardware store to search for ideas. I felt compelled to generate something more unique, a one of one that came from my hands, and not a printer or an app. I then opened to alchemy, and set about making hundreds of mistakes before the next layer began to emerge from under the skin of paint and furniture stain. At times for inspiration, I pushed myself back to earliest childhood, and I referenced the innocence I once had. During this time period, ambient music circled back through me as well, and I picked up an early thread of music that I’d left behind as a young man. I then spent three and a half years learning another language, as I built out the music studio of my mind. It closed another arc to my past, and it freed my soul for the next journey.I needed to write, perform, produce and engineer every note that came from the expanse of my thirty years on the road. The music would echo and become a reflection of my entire life.
I am a mirror of my own inner world, andI am uniquely responsible for the love that I bring onto our earth.
I have spent so much time in search of myself, in search of healing, and all I’ve come to know about myself, is that each and every day is about the possibility of transcendence.
Colin Finlay is one of the foremost documentary photographers and filmmakers in the world. For almost twenty-five years, Finlay has chronicled the human condition with compassion, empathy, and dignity. He has covered war and conflict, disappearing traditions, the environment in both its glory and its devasColin Finlay spent thirty years covering war, conflict, disappearing tradition and the environment, but this is just one side of a creative individual who also writes, does illustration, makes art and composes music. Colin’s transition, and his skill set, are multi-faceted and we love those who continue to adapt and evolve with a changing creative world. The most difficult part of working with Colin is narrowing down the work and that, as they say, is a good problem to have.
Colin Finlay is one of the foremost documentary photographers and filmmakers in the world. For almost twenty-five years, Finlay has chronicled the human condition with compassion, empathy, and dignity. He has covered war and conflict, disappearing traditions, the environment in both its glory and its devastation, genocide, famine, religious pilgrimage and global cultures. In pursuit of his passion, he has circled theglobe twenty-seven times, in search of that one photo that will be a testament to the depth of human will and compassion, of hope and of an informed collective consciousness.
His work has been honored by prestigious organizations such as the Lucie Award/IPA, New York Art Directors, Photo District News (PDN), Applied Arts, International Center for Photography, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He has been awarded the prestigious Picture of the Year International (POYi) honor six times. Colin Finlay’s photographs have been featured in such publications as Vanity Fair, TIME, U.S. News and World Report, American Photo, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Asia Week, World Health Organization, UNICEF, Wired, GOOD, Communication Arts and Discovery.
Finlay has published 10 books including The Unheard Voice, Portraits of Childhood (1996), a collection of B&W images of children caught in the midst of conflict, Testify (2006), which won 1st place “Book of the Year” from POYi, and Darfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan (2007), which was co-produced with Proof and Amnesty International, and brings to light the history of war by eight world-renowned photographers and writers.
Finlay is passionate about humanitarian efforts and even co-founded the non-profit organization Proof: Media for Social Justice to help address issues faced by populations in post-conflict societies, and to encourage social change through photography.Finlay’s photographs are in the permanent collections of the George Eastman House, J. Paul Getty Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, LACMA and MOCA. - PHOTOKUNST