Today in class we explored how some of the best photographers of the 20th century captured the world in unique and innovative ways.
Wee looked at some work from Jay Maisel, Ernst Haas, Josef Koudelka, Martine Franck, and Henri Cartier Bresson. This a diverse group of photographers who have, in my opinion, similar strengths -- they all sought out the best conditions for making meaningful images. Bresson speaks of his "process" in terms of the rhythm of surfaces, lines, and values, while Maisel is interesting in "how light hits things."
Ultimately, mastering photography must consider coming to terms with light and how well it is read and captured through controlling exposure. At the same time, it is impossible to exclude the emotional, psychological and even spiritual dimensions that go into making and viewing images. When asked, students typically consider the idea of "conditions" for making good photographs something that is environmental such as the scene or location and lighting. What I was more interested in was in thinking about mental dispositions or attitudes that go into deciding what, how, when, why and where we go to make images. In the tsunami that is our visual culture our senses are dull. We no longer think of the way to see things as extraordinary. If we live this way, in a world where everything and everyone has been photographed ad nauseam since birth, then we risk losing the essence of creativity -- the human imagination, then, is at risk.
Last week, I went for a walk my some students to talk about light and how important it is to have our own way of seeing the world. It didn't really go that well. At the same time, I went about the business of believing actions speak louder than words. Here's what I saw.