Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Arbus and Reflection

Diane Arbus said about photography "The process itself has a kind of exactitude, a kind of scrutiny that we're not normally subject to. I mean that we don't subject each other to. We're nicer to each other than the intervention of the camera is going to make us. It's a little bit cold, a little bit harsh."

Now I may take issue with her claim that humans need cameras in order to subject each other to harsh scrutiny or cold exactitude or any combination therein, but that intervention is something I felt today.

Earlier, while walking around some ravines with my father and our neighbors, Carl and Frank; Frank kept ending up at the end of the group. So did I. There were dappled shadows caused by the oak trees and small inclines that I couldn't help but be drawn to compositionally when Frank walked slowly down them in his straw hat. But I wasn't talking to him. I didn't ask him if he minded his picture taken. I was running about, climbing trees and scurrying up gravel hillsides to find my preferred vantage point. I wonder if I missed the larger human element by shutting up and talking with my lens.

I felt that coldness. It was a documentary feel, as if I wasn't truly there taking the picture. Almost a feeling of being inside the camera, an invisible being responsible only for examining light and aiming for the most interesting frame.

1 comment:

  1. I know what you mean about the concept of feeling inside the camera. I tend to think of it as a way of becoming objective, which is also, in part, what I think Arbus means.

    While I agree that people are fully capable of being harsh, as they say, "The camera does not lie." Thus, one could deny the harshness of human interaction by calling it a failure of language to ever accuractely express true feeling. Language can be interpreted. Images can not (though, that is a point that could certainly be discussed at some length).

    As far as your experience is concerned, I think the human element extends far beyond the realm of language. Rather than you being a part of the camera, I feel like the camera is an extension of you. Using your camera to interact, I feel, is just as valid as any verbal or physical communication.