I continue to develop film exposed a year or so ago, discovering pleasant surprises, along the way. As a writer, I know that putting a manuscript away for a while, letting it breath, is a good thing. Coming back to it weeks, months or more later, affords perspective. The same holds for photography, perhaps is true of all creative efforts. (This begs the question, obviously, of how one goes about getting that perspective while working in the immediacy of digital and its instant feedback. But that is another matter.)
So, as I said, I’m developing film I exposed months ago. This image, taken at the Old Port Festival, was made about ten months ago. I made three exposures of this scene. I remember composing it, knew there was a good shot here as I was making it. (In looking at my photographs, no matter how old, no matter how many years ago I pressed the shutter, I remember taking it. It is the only aspect of my memory I truly trust. Susan Sontag said that photography is the single creative discipline where the viewer experiences the perspective of the artist (ouch, that word–artist–makes me flinch). I understand that.)
I like this image for a number of reasons. My aesthetic leans to the complex, reflecting my opinion of the modern existence. That is to say, creative efforts, from literature to photography, are the more satisfying the truer they track (modern) experience. To this end, the panoramic format is my current tool of choice. The panoramic works like the eye, like our experience: It lets in vast amounts of information, giving the viewer the opportunity to scan a scene, of having an experience, not just seeing an image. That is the first thing. Secondly, given the type of photography I choose to practice, I want to see something of the human experience expressed. “Above all,” said Robert Frank, “I know that life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference.” Also, I want depth of field. When the eye looks over a city street or into the window of a crowded cafe, it sees everything in focus. Yes, shallow depth of field can direct the viewer to a subject with precision. But for the photographer of the urban dynamic, the subject matter is everything and everywhere. The image should exact a toll upon the viewer-reader, not letting the eye rest easily. (Again, reflecting modern existence.)
It’s not in my nature to wax on in theory. With respect to visual aesthetics, I tend to either like a thing or not like a thing. I am shallow that way. But after many years, I am slowly beginning to understand why I like a thing, or think otherwise. There is some pleasure in knowing a thing or two truly.