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Ernst Haas quotation
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 11:41 pm    Post subject: Ernst Haas quotation Reply with quote

"There are two kinds of photographers: those who compose pictures and those who take them. The former work in studios. For the latter, the studio is the world. For them, the ordinary doesnt exist: every thing in life is a source of nourishment."


PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This quote provoked me to write a bit of a meditation for another -non photographic- group:

The photographic moment, for those who take them rather than compose them, is
often a quasi conscious event. You take the photograph not knowing precisely
what is going on within the frame, reacting to the feeling of the moment or some
obvious item. Often these moments are semi-composed: the photographer takes
several passes at the scene, with slight changes, hoping that one will capture
the 'decisive moment'.

The thing to note here, often the detail that makes a photograph is elusive and
perhaps not even consciously noted at the time of exposure. The man who appears
only later on the fire escape. The fleeting facial expression. The bird, the
cloud, the glance from a passer by. The pattern, repeated within the frame, the
tone or color that ties areas together.

Here, seeing the photograph later permits a second attention, a deepening of
awareness of the moment. Note however that this is a second (or third, or
fourth) moment that is itself a 'moment' just like the time of the exposure. The
bias that prioritizes the original 'moment' is somewhat faulty here - in
reference to the 'outside world' they have different relationships and carry
different possibility, but inherently, they both are 'now'.

The develpment of subsequent meaning and correspondence is often a collaborative
effort - another pair of eyes sees another detail or makes another association,
which communicated, grows the meaning of the photograph.

However unconscious or naive, the original eye is necessary for the capture of
the frame. But this necessary thing does not preclude (or make irrelevant) all
the other moments and eyes.

So take that other kind of photogapher: this one attempts to pre-load what is
post-hoc in the taken photo. Lots of thinking and practice, set-up and staging,
lighting, posing, and so on, goes on before the shutter snaps. Despite Haas'
seeming bias towards the takers over the makers, the maker's approach is also a
good one. Just the sequence is different, and perhaps the idea of controlled
creation vs. inspired discovery.

This has a lot to do with the various approaches to spirituality and religion,
and poetry and many other arts. Like spirituality, however, of all the arts
photography shares the same problem of what to do about the 'external' world.