Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The world is messy. What about the photo?
"Spikehead," Tim Connor, All rights reserved
When I started out (in B & W), a clean shot like the one above, reduced to a few bold shapes & patterns, was the holy grail of street shooting. Even thinking I might have such a shot rolled up inside my (film) camera was enough to send me home excited and anxious. I would worry till I saw the negative, the contact sheet & finally the work print. Could it really be? No mess, no fuss, no unseen car bumper or corner of a swing set intruding? Mostly it didn't happen, of course. Usually something was wrong; the perfection was spoiled. But when it did happen, when I had captured something dynamic reduced to a state of radical simplicity I was sure I had created real art & I was very proud.
"Spikehead on the handball court," Tim Connor, All rights reserved
Now I don't feel that way. This shot (shown here a couple of days ago) was made a few seconds earlier or later than the top picture. I find it gives me more pleasure. Tonight at least, I'm convinced the world is messy, cluttered, complicated. I need to see this. I need context.
But this is not a policy pronouncement. I'm still thrilled to get a shot like the top one (full disclosure: I did a lot of digital retouching to get it -- more than would have been possible in analog). In some cases (another night) I would certainly prefer the simpler, cleaner shot. Maybe I've just stopped making a fetish out of it.