Photography, why?

Day 046/100

Yesterdays post got me thinking, which at times is not the best thing for me to be doing. I could understand why I felt photography was more valid an art form than painting, but what I have never really sat down and considered is why photography at all. Considering I failed my first ever undergrad assignment in the subject. Over the following years I did do better, but as one professor stated “she’s happier when it all goes wrong”, which was true especially when trying to process color photographs. I suppose I found the photographic requirements for graphic design too controlling and did everything I could to push the limits. For you can only do the crazy stuff in university, once you leave you do have to conform to the world at some point. For me photography is a perfect balance between creativity and science, where without one the other becomes untenable. What fascinates me is that photographs are deemed the one medium where the subject matter should be self explanatory, as it is an accurate depiction of a specific moment in time. But in actuality it is anything but, for the more your read beyond the surface of the photograph the more becomes apparent. But to truly see beyond that single moment you need to view the contact sheet from which that specific photograph was taken, for when the second before and after is made visible, the meaning and truth of the photograph will again alter, proving or disproving the viewers interpretation. In addition to this interpretation of the photograph itself is what process as utilized to produce it, Walter Benjamin in his text The work of art in the age mechanical reproduction posits that photography is a mechanical art where man is in essence surplus to requirements. For the traditional lens based cameras this holds true, but when applied to the pin-hole camera, it becomes less applicable. This form of photography of which I love using the most, is probably the most free of all methods to create a photographic negative, because the photographer has absolutely no control over what the camera captures on the light sensitive medium being used. And to produce the negative and final positive photographic print, man is a necessary component. For me this is why I love photography, for it is its most basic form that brings to life what it must have been like for the first photographers witnessing the invisible being made visible. When photography still retained some notion of magic. For me that magic remains, for in order to create a photograph an alchemy is preformed between light, the camera, you and the darkroom.


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