February 12th, 2019 … Some Photos and a Mild Discussion … The Prunes of Photography??
…damn right it’s cold. oh, sorry folks, I didn’t know youse all were here. See, I was talking with a Police Officer and we decided it’s cold. He works for the Transit Authority, better know as Septa. I see him many times as I travel by public transportation as much as I can. I love it. I know most hate it but for me, it’s the mix of the people, the buses, trains and whatever. I’m not going to tell you the officers name because he said if I do he’s locked me up in a cell with my wife for 10 years. Let me tell ya if that doesn’t scare the doo doo out if ya, nothing will. Anyway, I have Mom the Ricoh GRII with me. Youin’s all know I name my cameras. I do that because they all have a way of seeing that’s different from each other. That translated to how they work differently with me.
I was just asked by one of youse to briefly explain the reason for naming my cameras. Ok, short and sweet. Let’s assume we all love photography. We all love making photos. So if this a fact, and it is…. this love is directly related to time and life. The naming of a camera makes it personal for you and also makes a tangible connection with the camera and the art of making photos. It’ forms a closeness or a bond.
…..anyway back to the unnamed police officer. I’ve seen him many a time and he sometimes goes to the Dunkin Donuts and has a box of a dozen and a large container of hot coffee, He goes around to some homeless people and gives them a donut and a cup of hot Joe, as he calls it. He told me that his superiors told him he wasn’t allowed to do this coffee thing.
….and then the statement from him that matters to all. Yes, every human and subhuman like politicians etc needs this lesson. “If we abandon our humanity, what is left? It’s a small thing I do but it keeps me human and lets the people I help know they have some dignity and humanity left.” Wow!
Many years ago, my Grandmother told me, “What goes in has to come out.” Sree, I was a young teenager and had eaten much junk food. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Junk food wasn’t invented yet. My grandmother was aa pre-junk food advisor. Anyway, I was bloated with, um food. She walked to the cabinet, forbidden to all but her. I could hear the music of the Ride of the Valkyries in my head. No speakers, or digital; versions. It was music to scare the do do out of me. I knew instantly her intention was to clear my bowels. I was horrified that she would reach for the dreaded enema bottle. My butt cheeks locked in anticipation. Then, then out of the cabinet, my nerves settled to a lower point of the guard. In her hand, small wrinkled and slightly shaking, was a bag with black things in it. She handed me 4 of these wrinkled black things. She said, eat the Prunes one at a time but get all 4 eaten in a few minutes. In the HOLY SCRIPTURES, no matter what religion you follow, there is a law that is the 11th Commandant. “THOU SHALL NOT EVER DISOBEY YOUR GRANDMOTHER” Whit all due respect, I ate the prunes as instructed. Nana told me to sit and relax in Pop Pop’s chair. This was a high honor bestowed upon me by an act of love.
After about 15 minutes, but who’s counting, I felt the Valkyries rumbling in my poor belly. I ran upstairs to the bathroom. Quickly dropping my drawers and sat on the almighty toilet. The prunes immediately without hesitation, battled the Valkyries and won the battle. The rest of the toilet procedure is better left alone.
I learned a few things in this episode. One was that above all people on the earth, no one will ever love you like a grandparent. This of course in adaptable to anyone you love or loves you. I made that statement so when Nana reads it in Heaven, she won’t have bad feelings.
What does this have to do with photography? I know if your reading this, you have a complete understanding, That goes without thought. Please bear with me cause there are some new people here and they don’t really get my style of writing. So I’ll explain to them and youse regulars don’t have to read this.
See, we are making photos of things we find interesting. My brain is a Capco, model 256a, 1949 issue. It’s slower than the new models and doesn’t have the features that newer models have, What my brain (mind) does, it connects my optical sensors (eyes) with my emotions stemming from my blood pumping station, (heart).
So, if what goes in has to come out, why do we need to be concerned anyway. When we work, we essentially process info that has been put into us. The output usually is a result of input and the mix with what we add to that input.
There is no photo ever made or will be made that is PURITY. what we need do as photographers, is to recognize the results of our photos. Recognize the source of inspiration. Is it an overload of info coming into us from outside sources? What part of the photos is our contribution to stimuli?
Essentially what I’m saying is to try to locate and define the stimuli entering your mind and to acknowledge that it’s impossible to escape it. Stieglitz had a body of work called, “Equivalent”, Part of it was, a cloud in the sky and it equaled the torso of a body.
I am not saying to do that. I was sitting with Ding at the museum and he showed me some Stieglitz photos. I saw and held some Equivalents. I understood what the intention was and the emotional impact they had on me. My heart changed its pattern of beating. Ding took the prints and placed them in their box. Then he handed me a print I was very well in love with. It was The Steerage.
Let me tell ya. I held that photo from the edges, the way he taught me. I had all kinds of emotional feelings. I studied every small part of the photo. The faces embedded in me before embedding was invented. Ding smiled and asked me, “What do you feel about this image?” I immediately understood “Equivalent.”
This is the key to the life of a photographer is. Each photo you make is equivalent to the experience of living at the time of exposure. So, you owe it to yourself to determine how much of the images are from the part that needs prunes or how much is actually your creative input. We are not alone in the world, We are not alone in life. We are not alone in our photos. We just should strive to recognize what’s in them and then to understand all the facets of the photo.
Do you SEE your photos? Do you see YOU in the photos?