Photography: Truth or Fiction?

life_in_maine_fact_or_fictionIn short, the absence of truth is an unescapable fact of photographic life.

Geoffrey Batchen

It has become fashionable in the photo art world to label all photography as fiction. This is tossed out like an undisputed fact. It seems the main claim (and there are many sub arguments for the fictitiousness of photography including the Post Photography movement of Geoffrey Batchen) is that photographs can be manipulated and are subjective.

The manipulation argument is strange as it is seen as something new. Ever since the invention of photography, artist have been using it to create fictitious images (just look for the 1857 photograph The Two Ways of Life by Oscar Gustave Rejlander if you think Photoshop was somehow groundbreaking). But that is a bit like saying ever since the Greeks started writing mythologies, writing can only be fiction. But just like mackerel are not all fish, manipulated photographs do not account for all photography. Continue reading

Worlds within Worlds

life_in_maine_worlds_without_endWe view the world through a complex visual system that is filtered by our mind. The mind projects rules and order onto what we see, making it familiar. One of the beauties of photography is that it can disrupt that filter, revealing layer upon layer of a complex world. Patterns, forms, and colors we pass by everyday suddenly seem to transform into something new, something beyond what we know. Click on the image for a larger view.

Germany 1968

germany_1968I was going through some old film and found a picture of my family from 1968—the smart-looking guy in the green wool hat is me. As a photographer, you are always working in the moment, in the present. To see an image from another time and connect that point to where you are today is odd. In what sense is that person me; in what sense is he a faded shadow of who I was. At least, I now have better sweaters.

Sacred for a Day

sacred_for_a_dayShinto festivals are community rites. The god of the local shrine is transferred to a portable shrine, which is carried through the parish in an all-day event. Teams sing and dance while carrying their divine host. Along the way, these bearers stop for refreshment.

There are no sermons. This is no proselytizing. The revelation is far more subtle, far more profound. The place, the people are sacred for this day and for every day that follows. Click on the image for a larger view.

Futon Daiko - William Ash