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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Photography.

I’ve been taking so many pictures recently, that I hadn’t actually stopped to consider photography itself - not as a medium, or form of expression, in artistic terms, but more why I do it. It’s a bit a puzzler in some ways, and totally clear in others. I’ve started taking photos almost religiously, documenting the lives of my friends and family and life in general. The thing is, I don’t generally have photographs on display. Sure, I have a few of my favourites on the pin board above the PC, but I don’t have many, if any, around of my friends or family.

I get great pleasure out of a beautiful image, or perhaps to be clearer, what I consider to be a beautiful image. Form, colour, light - all these things appeal to me, but in a way there is something I dislike about photographs of people I know being on display. I admit this does slightly contradict my enjoyment of taking portrait shots, but there you go. Perhaps it’s the notion of a person I know and love being reduced to a two dimensional image. I think it’s very, very rare that a portrait actually gives you a sense of the subject as a person - and I have great admiration for any artist, whatever their medium, that manage to achieve it.

There is an exception to this, however. There are some photos from my childhood that I cherish. Photographs of my Grandmother always stir some emotion in me, but then I didn’t really know her in real life, as she passed away when I was I three. Even so, I have some things that belonged to her and I can find a greater connection with her through these than looking at her image.

Maybe the reason I take all these photos isn’t because they enable me to feel a connection with their subject, but simply to help keep memories alive or to remind me of forgotten events. We experience so much through life, but looking back at photos from seemingly trivial events of the past often remind me of things that I had completely forgotten, because they simply weren’t that important at the time - and if they produce an emotional reaction in me, it tends to be more of amusement than sadness or fondness.

Having said all this, my latest project seems to have become documenting the life of my friend’s first child. There is something fascinating about watching a baby develop into a fully rounded person right in front of you, and it seems this development becomes clearer and more evident when put down on paper. It’s a cliché, but it passes by so quickly that it’s easy to take it for granted.

After all that, I suppose that the one thing that I hang onto is the principle that a photographic image captures a second in time that is never to be repeated. And that I do find value in.

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