Saturday, May 23, 2015


Over the years I have compared the images that come out of the camera as ‘drafts’ and written that no author worth his salt ever publishes a draft. I am always a little irritated when someone foolishly boasts that the photograph has no post processing--as though that is something to be desired. To me it rings hollow, like saying a monkey just typed War and Peace. It is letting a piece of mechanical equipment take responsibility for and command of what should be a very personal intellectual process of creating art. Yes, I know there is a human interaction with the camera, but not to the extent, in my not so humble opinion, to create art. Art requires greater intellect; greater responsibility on the part of the photographer. A lot of my friends don’t like to hear me say such things.

Anyway, at breakfast this morning I was reading duChemin and came across this:

“I wish I could previsualize my photographs, but I can’t and never have been able to. I read about people like Ansel Adams talking about visualizing the image and between you and me, and depending on my mood, I either think he was full of crap or I am the one photographer in the world who doesn’t’ have a clue what he’s talking about. Either way, it’s depressing. I don’t previsualize a scene. I feel it. And it’s from that feeling that I begin working with the elements in front of me and the choices available to me, and I move them around, try them on, discard them, and try something else until I see something in my frame that feels the way I feel… If you’d ask me to describe it before I put the camera to my eye, I’d use emotional words, or at best be able to talk in terms of sketch images and possibilities.

“Sketch images are the crap, the doss, the author’s lousy first draft. I make them unashamedly, knowing that no one will ever see them, and I make as many of them as I have to. Why? Because I don’t see the same way the camera does. I see in three dimensions; the camera flattens that to two. I see with peripheral vision and almost limitless focus; the camera allows me to frame out much of the world and focus only on what I want to. I see light in a way the camera doesn’t. So I put the camera to my face and ask it to show me how it sees what I am looking at, and I make frame after frame until the camera—with all its constraints--helps me see the world the way I am feeling it. Maybe that’s just me. It’s rare—very rare—that I see something, raise the camera, make one frame and call it a day, returning home satisfied with my work.

“Art is work… It’s called art work, not art screwing around.”

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