Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Morning Coffee: Take 3 - It's About Time

"In a still photograph you basically have two variables, where you stand and when you press the shutter. That's all you have."
-- Henry Wessel

Shutters, like seducers, have two basic techniques: the stare and the wink.  Photographs occur at the precise moment when a person, a camera and the world interconnect.  Each part of the collision has its own reality, its own set of times: our personal lives move along, the world paddles its own canoe, and the camera shutter blinks and blurs.  All three times can mark the final image and produce images uniquely photographic in their feel and form.

Photographs might dance with Faulkner's sense of art: "The goal of every artist is to stop movement, which is life, by artifical means and to maintain it fixed so that, 100 years later, when a stranger may gaze at it, it will once again move, because it is life."

 The shutter question, "How is this moment different from any other?"  Cartier-Bresson: "To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression."  Not only can shutters hold the jetsam of life in meaningful visual balance, they can also suggest relationships that don't really exist.  Strangers in the night can meet, not just pass, in a shutter's flash.  Forever framed, their passage acquires a weight we flesh out with our fancy.

Shutter graphics have nearly infinite possibilities.  It depends on the direction and speed of the subject's movement (if any), the shutter's design and speed, and the direction and speed of a jiggle of the camera (if any).

What people love about photography is the chance it gives them to preserve some moment in their lives so it can be savored and re-savored in furtue times.  All moments, public as well as private, can be photographed.  Every choice of what and when to photograph reveals self, but photographs of private moments are directly about one's actual life.

A shutter can be a tool to make reality visible, to see the unseeable, and to expand the duration of a millisecond to a millennium  The most timeless photographs, those which endure the longest, may actually be the most timely, the most full of time.

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