Tuesday, September 09, 2014

One, Two, Three

Watertown, Connecticut

Six seconds. First shot catches the Prius coming into the frame. Two seconds later, just its shadow leaving the frame. Four second wait as another car goes through, then the third exposure for the clean view of nothing but the road surface and curb at the right, before another car comes through.

There's a strong tendency in thought—or at least writing—about photography, to emphasize the single, perfect image. There's also a similar tendency to emphasize the idea that pictures should be used in a series to tell a story. I'm quite amenable to the first tendency, hoping to make a single definitive picture of an interesting subject. But then I tend to think that if one perfect picture of a white country church in a rural setting is nice, perhaps a set of fifty or more of them might be even nicer. Or, one really fascinating drive-in theater in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania on a misty morning...you get the idea.

David Vestal had no use for the idea of the picture story. "If you want to tell a story, use words. That's what they're for. If you want to show what something looked like, use a photograph." I mostly agree, especially when I see advice, or even workshops, teaching that photographs are about storytelling. Nope. They're about showing what things looked like. But sometimes, it's interesting to see how, what they look like, changed, over the course of six seconds, or six decades.

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