Monday, June 22, 2009

Images from Montreal alleyways that I took last year.

Over the weekend I gave my mundane subjects some more thought. These are things that I love to photograph, in fact photographing such everyday things and trying to make interesting images of them feels very rewarding and even therapeutic to me. And so to leave this topic saying that there may not be much point in photographing the everyday inevitably depressed me. I needed to reclaim this way that I love to work. And so I thought about some of my favourite imagery out there. Some of the imagery that really changed the way I saw photography and its possibilities. And more often than not it was the everyday subjects that were shot in such a way that we could see them with fresh eyes that I enjoyed the most. For example Weston's pepper, or Kertesz' "Mondrian's Pipe and Glasses, Paris". This ability to take the everyday and make it beautiful and interesting again is a wonderful thing, and perhaps also a very tricky thing to accomplish. It is no accident that for even such a gifted artist as Weston it took many attempts at shooting peppers before coming away with the one that we all know. Taking a portrait of a someone dressed strangely, or with lots of tattoos, or any other oddity sometimes seems easier to me than photographing regular things that everyone knows. With the oddity it is the subject that first attracts the viewer and the lighting, composition, expression, etc. that makes them stay with the image. I have often been told that my images do not grab the viewer right away, but that the images stay with people in the long run. I am happy to hear this although often initial impact is what is needed in this business. Art directors, gallerists, etc. look at images all day. If you don't catch them in the first few seconds then they will move on. And yet this type of viewer experience makes for a lasting relationship with the photograph, something that you can live with for a long time. In thinking about these everyday subjects I also thought about why I love This American Life so much, and it is pretty much for the same reasons. This wonderful radio show takes the world that we are all familiar with and shows it to us with a twist. We get to look again at the world we live in but from a different perspective, and this new and alternative view can give us insight into our own lives and our own way of being. To me this is the best example of what can be accomplished by looking at the everyday. If only I can get to Ira's level of mastery!

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