About

I'm David: An American photographer, essayist, and educator

Saitama, Japan (Tokyo area)


Most of what I do and what I care about can be traced back to two primary impulses: the urge to explore and the urge to create. These have a tendency to feed into one another. 

I'm one of those people always befriending cats, such as this one at a temple in Suzhou, China.

I'm one of those people always befriending cats, such as this one at a temple in Suzhou, China.

As long as I can remember, I have always been intensely curious. I have always wanted to learn, to explore, to discover, and to create. I’m not content to leave things unexamined. Never have been and never will be. I like difficult questions and long-form answers that go deep. I like abstract explorations of things more readily felt than explained. If I ask someone what's in a particular area and they say "nothing," then that's where I want to go, because there's always something, and there is great joy in discovering what it is.

Writing and photography have been major presences in my life for more than twenty years, meaning that I’ve been doing them for nearly two-thirds of my life at this point. Beginning in my teenage years, my life revolved around throwing myself at photography in every way I could. Meanwhile, writing was something I did almost automatically. While my classmates were going on dates and running afoul of various authorities, I was spending the paychecks from my part-time job on film and dragging a view camera into the woods. I studied commercial photography and art history at Ohio University before jumping into photo assisting in Chicago. In the decade or so since then, I’ve worked in and out of photography, picking up experience and skills in a variety of places. 

In addition to my creative roles, my assorted job descriptions over the years have included things like a cook at a seafood restaurant, telemarketer attempting to sell cruises (don't think I ever did), customer service rep at a department store, press operator stamping sheet metal, shelf stocker, meat-counter guy at a supermarket, digitization tech for a retirement system, warehouser of truck tires and medical devices (separate jobs), camera store clerk, and English teacher. A lot of that work experience was pretty bad, but through that experience I learned a lot about the world I never would have otherwise. 

What it all adds up to isn’t just an assortment of weird, often non-transferable skills (like being able to disassemble a double conveyor broiler in under five minutes), but rather a library of human experience, both my own and everything I've picked up from the people I've met along the way. Also in that library is the ever-growing sum of  photographic obsessions, extensive and unpredictable research into anything and everything, an whatever else life happens to serve up.

This all comes back to creative life because we cannot create from any place other than the essence of who we are at heart. The experience I carry with me as I explore informs the work I produce. I sincerely hope that my experience and subsequent work yield something from which others can benefit.  

 

David R Munson

June, 2017

Mt Fuji on the horizon, as seen from Akigase Forest in Saitama, Japan.

Mt Fuji on the horizon, as seen from Akigase Forest in Saitama, Japan.