Taking photographs

September 10, 2010

So. The first question. Why do I take photographs?

Since I asked myself that question for the first time in a long time last week, I’ve been mulling it over and haven’t come up with any neat Garry Winogrand-rivalling epithets (‘I photograph to see what something will look like photographed’), but I’ve started to form a list.

It looks something like this:

  1. I take photographs because it’s an instinct, just as making notes is an instinct. It’s a way of saving a scene, remembering something for later.
  2. The things I’m drawn to are broadly-ephemeral objects, spaces and details, invariably in places that it’s hard to return to for one reason or another – it’s a one-time offer on a moment.
  3. Because a crisp black and white image is like a drawing with a good sharp pencil.

I’ve been taking photographs for about fifteen years now, and though, because I use film, my output isn’t as prolific as some digital photographers, I’m increasingly aware of the pile of moments mounting up in boxes and drawers. I’m starting to think about that pile of pictures, and am thinking about those moments and how one might stretch them to fill a space longer than a heartbeat or the blink of an eye. Yes, they tend to be about details, but details can linger in the mind.

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