Saturday, December 15, 2007
I am not a great photographer. I know only how to point and shoot an auto-everything camera. My photographs are plain, prosaic. I'm often frustrated that I don't know how use a camera the way I use a brush or a pencil (although, recently, inspired by Peter Beard, I've taken to using both on my photos). I have neither control over nor insight into how my camera functions, other than pushing its shutter button. Sadly, more and more cameras are operated by pushing just one button. As my interest in real photography develops, the availability of traditional photographic materials is diminishing. Manual SLR and range-finder cameras are becoming fetish items while quality films and fibre-based papers are disappearing. Some are no longer manufactured. In Australia, it's difficult to find my favorite black-and-white 35mm film from Ilford and there's only one Sydney-based photo-finisher who will process it and custom print the negatives 'by hand' rather than with digital media.Digital cameras are easy to use but their images always seem flat to me, as if each shape has been cut-and-pasted into the frame. I'm so not a fan of computer-based photography. Using computers for photography is like using them for painting and drawing. It can be done, but the results are remote, artificial, and even the best works lack richness, let alone humanity and heart. They never make me feel anything. In the traditional photographic works that interest me most – by people such as Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Brassai, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Robert Frank, Larry Clark, Penny Smith, and others – the camera becomes eye, mind, subconscious, and heart all at once. Ironically, as it's such an old, mechanical technology, it allows the viewer to experience the result more fully and realistically because there is something more than the image itself. And isn't that what real art is about?