Opinion: Photography

On Saturday, I found myself on a high-rise admiring the changing colors of the trees below. It felt beautiful and serene. I had Karma (my camera) in my bag but I felt no need to reach for her and capture the magic below. I wanted and, in a sense, needed to feel the scenery live and die in my eyes. In my meeting it and finding it beautiful, then in taking delight in its beauty, and then in looking away and leaving it uncaptured and unprotected in the stream of my memory. Later, I met with a friend because I had agreed to go on a shooting hangout. I haven't done one of those since college. "Hey, won't you take out your camera?" He asked as he looked around for something else to shoot. He had already gotten a few frames. I had been talking too much and laughing too much, and his words reminded me why I was there. I brought out Karma, which for a while now has only captured images for Mawusi, and started looking for textures that would inspire the creation of an abstract photograph. It is what I've been into since my last real conversation on photography with the professor whose class helped me discover my love for the genre.
 Cape Kennedy, Florida, (Apollo 11 Moon shot), 1969
It was Garry Winogrand who did it for me. At first I was very excited about his work because I, too, was into street photography. Studying his images of people going about their lives, I started to feel the intrusiveness of the camera; why some call it a "Peeping Tom." It felt as though the camera was Winogrand. In his images he ceased to be a man but a tool. A recording tool which has only one interest: to find the picture and freeze it for another time. It really was the picture above that turned me off street photography. It is what forced me to want to learn to not reach for my camera first. To not live for freezing others living, rather to give into the moment and experience the life of things in their frailty.

I am not against street photography, I appreciate it. I am against becoming a street photographer or developing a need to shoot everything. My phone camera often has less than ten images: shots of coupons, business cards, and directions. I may seem old fashion, but I fear that there is something highly disruptive about frequently reaching for the camera. It could very easily make one lose that which makes one relate, that feeling of empathy.



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