Thursday, January 17


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Professor Jeff Curto in his on-line podcast of a course on Photographic History wondered when a photograph is made. Is it, he mused, when the shutter is tripped? Or is it when the artist says it is made?

Look here at this woman I found on the street not far from Rome's Trevi Fountain. I took one exposure through gaps between the heads of maybe ten or fourteen people. She was part of the street theater which surrounds many of the city's most popular sites. The day was warm, her costume hot and perhaps an authentic reproduction of 17th or 18th century pomp. In a lot of ways she was a mannequin. Oddly there seemed something poignant about the way she made her living standing there in the fading sun of a late fall afternoon.

I knew that I felt something as I looked at the mysterious veiled woman. And I wanted to tell that feeling to you in this image.

Which makes me wonder something farther about Jeff's question. I wonder if the photograph is made when it communicates? If that's the case, then it's not me who finally decides it's finished but... you.




John Roberts said...

A good photograph begins with a thought, an idea, and a desire to communicate it visually. So it would appear to me that the photograph is finished after the shutter is released, all the post-exposure work is done (whether chemically, through an enlarger lens, or digitally), and the image comes as close to communicating what was intended as the photographer can make it.

Photographers can get somewhat frustrated in this effort to communicate, and are like the author who is continually re-writing the last chapter of a novel. So some photographs are probably never finished. I often go back to work on photos that were exposed months, or even years ago, to use newly learned techniques to better draw out the original idea.

Does the viewer determine "finished"? It takes at least two for communication to take place, so maybe so. I think that a photo is like a book. "The Grapes of Wrath" was a finished work in 1939, but it is still communicating today. Steinbeck finished a book, but he still hasn't finished communicating his idea.

candag said...

Why do you take pictures? That is the bottom line isn't it? In a discussion on POTN someone told me on a discussion around on of my HDR's that you have to look at the picture for what they are and do not dislike them for what I would have done it.

Someone, somewhere will always want to add something to the photo... And if it makes a big impact on you... you could write a book on it!

But then again, there's always something I would change on my photos ;)

Bill Birtch said...

"I wonder if the photograph is made when it communicates? If that's the case, then it's not me who finally decides it's finished but... you."

In that case, this one's finished, 'cause it communicates heaps. Everything pulls my eye to that mysterious face and the colours are stunning.

Trub said...

Is a photograph simply a mechanical process when you press the shutter of your brownie and sent it off for someone to process just so you can see your Aunt May smiling? Or...when the "artist" manipulates "things" to achieve a desired effect is it more than a photograph? Those great photographers before us have all modified work to strengthen their vision. They are still photographs. With all of the tools available to you and me can we appreciate a picture straight out of the camera, un-post-processed? Can we term it art? No answers here, just questions. When is it made? Yes I too have continued to "improve" works after I was done...maybe just because I can.