Under the advise of my mentor (Amber David Tourlentes) I am reading Susan Sontag's notes of camp. I find this article very interesting in part because I use the adjective "campy" without ever thinking about it as an unconjugated noun, "camp" which carries a whole different meaning to me. Sontag begins by saying, "Many things in the world have not been named; and many things, even if they have been named, have never been described." I can use campy as a descriptor but actually defining it is a lot more challenging. In part because "camp" is a sensibility. Something that is "campy" is naive, child-like innocence or even pastoral.
A dictionary definition of camp, only defines it as sleeping in a tent or cabin in the country. Sontag's notes on camp are far more interesting than the dictionary. Sontag gives numerous examples of "camp" as an aesthetic. Camp does seem to be connected to rural life, by both Sontag and Merriam-Webster. But as Sontag describes: "Nothing in nature can be campy . . . Rural Camp is still man-made, and most campy objects are urban. (Yet, they often have a serenity -- or a naiveté -- which is the equivalent of pastoral. A great deal of Camp suggests Empson's phrase, "urban pastoral.")"
Now I bring this all back to my work, because some of my photographs can be campy. Often I am on the lookout for what feels campy (like a couple laying on their stomach's next to each other in the grass). I guard against campy because what I think it means is cheesy and inauthentic. But how can I truly dismiss something that I struggle to define. Sontag's writing is incredibly helpful (and entertaining) in thinking through this word I use and yet can't describe.