Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Philosophy of Documentary-Style Photography

Documenting an Event (no matter how trivial) helps to mark it's fleeting existence in time and human memory. Even the smallest Event, with a supposedly minute significance to outside observers, is, by definition, the Here And Now for it's immediate participants. This gives this Event a meaning and significance far surpassing any prior Event, therefore deeming it worthy of Documentation. A Documentation of this sort allows one to acknowledge this meaning and significance, recognize its place as a Moment in Time for it's participants and preserve its existence in the collective memory of society. Then there's the whole "A picture is worth a thousand words" thing coupled with my passion for the photographic medium and you've got the basic philosophy behind the seemingly mundane and everyday pictures found here on the blog.

It is interesting to note that throughout our travels overseas, what's mostly sparked my curiosity and attention is exactly those everyday, normal activities of the inhabitants of whatever foreign culture I found myself. The posts throughout our time in the Philippines, Australia and Costa Rica are chock full of detailed descriptions and photographs of locations and activities that the local population would find completely unworthy of attention, but which have allowed me to learn, grow and experience so much more than I could possibly have spending time seeking out shots that others might find more Interesting or Beautiful.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, known as the Father of Modern Photojournalism has this to say: "To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression. I believe, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little human detail can become a leitmotif."

Whether it's on the other side of the planet or in our own kitchen, I guess we're always in Discovery mode- of what's inside and outside of ourselves- through the the uses of letters, words and sentences as well as shapes, lines and color. Hopefully, our blog has been a vehicle for sharing some of that discovery to our readers, as well as a catharctic activity for Kendra and I...even if not all of the pictures rank up in the category of Fine Art.

Ansel Adams
says: "Do not depreciate the importance of a snapshot. While to many it is the symbol of thoughtlessness and chance, it is a flash of recognition. It represents something of value in the world, which -for many reasons- we wish to perpetuate. It represents something seen, it may have real human and historic value. The more we look, the more we see... the more we see the more we respond. When we begin visualizing our response to world in terms of images we become photographers in the most rewarding sense of the word."

Teethbrushing. We (and this girl) do it everyday.
Mundane & Everyday event for the immediate participants? Yes.
Content worthy of Documentation: Maybe not
But a Rewarding capture of a moment in the photographer's existence? Absolutely


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