It’s about what you don’t make pictures of …
Olde City, Philadelphia, 1975 Courtesy Richard Chait
Thru the years, actually many of them, I learned when I was younger, I liked to TAKE pictures. When I became a more hip photographer, it became, I like to MAKE pictures. Years would pass and I became a more experienced shooter and I liked to MAKE PHOTOS. Making rather than TAKING, after all, let’s not degrade the fine art aspect of photography. The Horror!
Now that I am in the September of my years, I MAKE IMAGES, not TAKE IMAGES. Proper images at that. Of course, maybe I am the only one that notices or even gives a hoot. Not true but saying it releases a lot of pressure.
Ok, all, grab your camera and let’s go for a virtual walk, It’s fine to use your virtual camera now. A few things to bare in mind. You can make virtual photos of anything you want. As we walk about, whatever suits you to make a photo, do it. Next to me is Jenny. She stops for a second raises the camera and clicks. She asks me to look at the frame and I do. So, we walk a wee bit more and I ask her, jenny, what made you stop our virtual walk and make that photo?
She replied, virtually of course … “well Don, I wanted to see what was missing before the photo. I was connecting my units, as you showed me. I felt it was all together and I realized instantly I needed to make the photo.
UNFINDING EVERYTHING TO FIND YOUR PHOTO
I know I mentioned triggers, sensitivities, sensibilities, and other visual things that make the recipe of a photo. So, what is it that does not conjure up an image in our minds? Is it that we are living in a world that is mundane and we seek the special? That’s maybe a part of it but methinks it’s more than that. I feel that the photo we want to really make and breathe, calls to us. We don’t find anything but something finds us.
There is a special duty a photo could serve. There is a special purpose we could serve to make them. There was a shrink many years ago named, Dr. Murray Banks. He was brilliant and had a very good sense of humor. A quote of his is, “As you go throughout your life, brother whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.” This sums up the concept, “It’s about what you don’t make pictures of …”
Imagine if you will, that there are some people and you want a photo of just one. This person is in a group but you just want that person. That person will feel special because you singled he, she or trans out. That is a special feeling. But, what of the others that you don’t make a photo of?
That person was worth the memory. In time, and quickly, you will love the memory of that person and the experience. But the others, no memory will survive, Does that mean they aren’t worth the memory or the memory of the experience? I think not. It’s the things that draw us that command a memory. They are not always the first choice but they count and need to be honored with a memory of your life experience that joins yours.
I made a photo of my grandmother sitting on a sofa in her home. It was like 1975. The photo is one of my prized possessions. When I clicked the shutter I was fully aware that the photo would eventually outlive her and in time outlive me. I remember Pop. my grandfather standing 5′ away but he didn’t sit down. He was looking out the window. I made the photo and since then my heart aches because I miss both of them and only have the photo of her. I have the memory of the loss of him.
6 thoughts on “It’s not about what you make pictures of …”
I find it awkward using the verb “make” in this context. to me, “take a picture” sounds natural and less pretentious.
Well, are you taking something from your subject? I mean sounds like your subjects have photos stuck on them and you TAKE one. Maybe you think it’s pretentious but… on the contrary, making a photo takes nothing from anyone. It’s like INTENT. Your intent sets into motion what you do and think and feel. Making a photo is about making a photo. Taking is about taking. usually without asking. When I was in NAM, I remember making photos of the kids. I would bring the photos to them in a few days and they loved what was made. Either way, their memory of the experience outlives all.
Do it your way my friend, that’s right for you but I damn sure am not pretentious. actually, what the hell does that even mean?
I rather say that I photograph…
What do you think about using phone for photography? Do you shoot with phone?
Pavel, I don’t use a phone for serious photos. Just copy things etc. YF uses it all the time in Japan and has amazing work.
yes, I know that, many do great stuff with phone, my fav is Eric Mencher
Pavel, Eric is from Philly and I knew him back in the day. He’s a gentleman with an iPhone.