Published: Thursday 28th of September 2006 11:41:33 AM
WOW! Ooooops! You've placed a burdon on me as well. In my recent exhibit, I was asked why I take pictures of certain things and for the life of me, I really couldn't come up with an answer. After I thought about it for some time, a few things came to me. Here is what it said in a bio section. Ironically, it answers a few of the question you asked and this was prepared over 4 weeks ago. Forgive the long response but you asked... :-) ...Does my knowledge of why I photograph the subjects I photograph make the images any more significant? Am I any less of a photographer because I don't know the reason I photographed something or am I a better photographer because I do know? Shouldn't the image speak for itself? The truth is: I don't always know why I shoot what I shoot. Let me rephrase that, I don't think I know why I shoot what I shoot. I see things and for some reason or another, they appeal to me. Not always as they are to the naked eye but as what I think they can be through the viewfinder and possibly later, within the digital darkroom. Next thing you know, I'm on my hands and knees in mucky water in an alley somewhere because the broken hinge on a well worn dumpster has somehow attracted my attention. Is it the color? The texture? The lighting? If it's symbolism, I admit, I'm not always aware. It's just there, and I photograph it. The best reason I've come up with for shooting what I shoot is this: As a young boy, our family didn't vacation much in exotic places. We didn't travel to the mountains, beaches, etc. I developed an interest in visual mediums at a very young age and began shooting with mom's Kodak Instamatic camera. I found myself in the alleys, dead ends, railroad tracks and abandoned and dilapidated old houses of our urban neighborhood. Paterson, New Jersey was not exactly a vacation spot. Suddenly, the small multi-colored stones piled up against the railroad spikes piercing the railroad tie took on new meaning, as did the fire escape with the rusty steel steps bolted to the brick of the four-story building. I started seeing imagery in the most mundane, everyday items. As the sun set, the colors took on a whole new flavor. Shadows from these objects began extending themselves across well-worn, graffiti strewn, cracked concrete sidewalks. After the sun set and the streetlights came on, the palette changed. What I viewed in the daylight hours had now been transformed by mercury vapor street lamps, the full moon, headlights and traffic lights. Colors shifted, shapes warped within my viewfinder and I found myself out at all hours of the night, trying to capture what I thought these objects would be turning into. I learned the human eye and the camera don't always see the same thing and had to make adjustments. Having been trained with film, I didn't have the luxury of seeing the results immediately. Often, days later when the film came back after having been processed, I was either wonderfully rewarded or greatly disappointed. But I learned to calculate what would happen within those seconds that the film was exposed to the various light sources. Digital has in many ways relieved that stress in that we can view the results immediately. We still have to adjust, compensate, explore. On my best days, I am aware that I am constantly surrounded by beauty in many unusual forms. My reward is if others share the vision within my images. So there it is. I still don't know really know why I do what I do. But I do know this: I appreciate your taking the time to comment and I appreciate the kind words about my work. Thank you for helping me better understand myself. Paul
My gratitude back to you. It's these questions that make us explore what is within ourselves and your question(s) certainly did that for me. I still don't have all the answers and more than likely, I never will. Maybe the only answer is that sometimes there are no answers. It just is. I would be honored if you wanted to link this page to whatever you feel is appropriate. I look forward to more correspondence in the future. Paul
JH de Beer (RSA)
Hi Paul I'm trying to raise the bar in my comments, in an effort to enhance my own photographic efforts. Therefore I won't insult you with a WOW!, ever, I promise. I wish there was an automatic block on WOW here on PN. I have a problem here, and I am trying something different. I want to reserve my comment on this image, with your approval obvious. The reason being that I want to get clarification from you first. Because I like these type of images, and do them myself, but I don't know why! Believe it or not. Why did you take this picture? What drew your eye, attentention and ultimately your lens towards it? Whas it the nice light? The rough textures? The composition of otherwise mundane objects, the interplay between colours? I'm lost here and hope you can help. Bottomline: I like it and don't know why. *sigh* Cheers JH
JH de Beer (RSA)
Paul You had me at Wow.... ;-) Seriously though, thank you. This is one of the best and most descriptive answers I ever got on this question. And it makes a lot of sense. I hope everyone on PN have the privilege to be able to read this at some stage. Would you mind if I link to this page whenever I'm trying to explain something, or want to make a point, or just want people to read this? What I also understand much better now, is why some viewers will be intrigued by a photo (like the above for example), and other viewers will just not get it, or be interested, or couldn't care less. It is not just a visual impact or experience, it is much deeper. I reckon the subconscious mind plays a big role in this interpretation exercise, and relates back to childhood memories (good or bad), culture, living conditions and upbringing and exposure to the world and its people in general. One day, when someone ask you why you took this particular photo, you can tell them that the lens had a vision that it will use this image to explain something much bigger and better to someone in need of an explanantion. Regards JH
Green and Red Best viewed in large view. Comments welcome and always appreciated.