Friday, January 05, 2007

The Snapshot Aesthetic

Another interior landscape - Oddly enough, and sort of out-of-the-blue, last fall a traveling 3 ring circus (Carson & Barnes) came to our little hamlet of about 800 souls here in the Airondacks. It was weird for a number of reasons: like, why, of all places, here? and, the way in which they showed up in the morning, set up the whole deal, including the main tent (with the assistance of elephants) and various side show attractions, put on afternoon and evening shows, and then packed up during the night. By the next morning they were gone, leaving not a single trace of their passing. I guess you might have to live in a sleepy little hamlet in the largest wilderness in the eastern US to understand how surreal the whole thing seemed.

In any event, I have posted this photograph as an opportunity to discuss the "snapshot" aesthetic. On the recent urban landscape thread, Billie commented that "...I have a holga lens attahed to the body cap for my digital camera....I want the digital combo to work but I'm not sure. I think part of the reason it isn't going to work is because I have a different attitude with the holga in my hands than I do with a dslr...but there may be no Holga but a holga."

Since Billie is a newbie here (comment-wise), I checked out her blog, billieblog, an found this The Holga Vision post whereon she poses the question, "What is it about a Holga Camera that lets a photographer see just a little differently?"

Good question. But for me, the answer is to refute the basis for the question - I don't see differently with different cameras. When photographing in my non-commercial/personal state of mind, I tend to carry my way of seeing - the vision thing - over to whatever camera/format I am using - from my 8x10 view camera on down the line to my krappy kameras.

No matter the camera or optics, analog or digital, I always crop to square. I always blur and burn the corners of my prints. I always aim for "natural" color. I almost always work the slightly wide to normal range of the optics spectrum. I always print "small" (by current gallery standards). And, my gaze is always deadpan and "casual" appearing. FYI, I use the word appearing because, even though my photographs appear to be randomly "composed", they are anything but.

Why? Simply because I want my photographs to have the initial feel and impression of snapshots. I don't want observers to be put off by formal technique and presentation that screams, "This Is Art! Sit up straight and pay attention. I don't want to have to tell you twice!" I want my photographs to be "accessible" to the casual viewer, not just those with "artistic" sensibilities, although I know that my photographs swing both ways.

My photographs certainly say a great deal about me, but, ultimately, it is the referent and the connoted that I want the observer to connect with. I am not photographing for glory and adulation (well, a little wouldn't hurt). It is making a connection with the observer that turns me on.

My photographic gaze almost always focuses on simple everyday things - my referent. In a broad sense, the connoted that I hope to convey to observers of my photographs is an appreciation for the simple beauty of unadorned life and living.

So, that's why I see and why present the fruits of my seeing in a simple appearing snapshot aesthetic - no matter the means of photographing.


Blogger Billie said...

Good point about not seeing differently with a different camera. I guess that what rocks my boat doesn't change that much but the way I handle the camera does. When I started shooting with the holga I was coming off a long stretch with a medium format camera on a tripod. With that little holga in my hand I was untethered and I didn't have the control that I had come to expect. I felt so free. I didn't worry about lining things up or converging lines. I just had fun and explored. I wasn't sure that I would continue that looseness but today during a long car ride I was shooting with the holga lens on the digi, shooting into the sun, I was playing. So maybe......we'll just have to see.

1/06/2007 12:18:00 AM  

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