‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.’
Henry David Thoreau
‘We are not interested in the unusual, but in the usual seen unusually.’ Beaumont Newhall
I pass through my garden gate several times each day. In fact, we’ve been passing acquaintances for many years! But this morning I did something I had not done before. I felt it was time I got to know my gate better and so I stopped and, I suppose, really looked at the gate for the first time. Despite its age it is in excellent shape with attractive curves, even though its joints are rusty and its skin needs more than a touch of conditioner. Clearly I have been neglectful and have not given the gate the tlc it deserves.
Nevertheless, to celebrate the occasion I took a series of photographs and will be sharing them with you today and tomorrow.
We all – each and every one of us – see the world differently. For example, a group of individuals looking at the same object, scene or picture will each see something different; how different will depend upon the varied life experiences in relation to the subject matter, that is, what they bring to the seeing process.
The point is, there is a distinction between LOOKING and SEEING and when creating a picture it is the exploration of this difference that interests me. Rather like peeling an apple or orange. I need to remove the outer layer to get to the substance. Direct representation is seldom sufficient. I need to get beyond the outer appearance to the inner meaning, the essence of the subject matter.
The Viennese photographer Ernst Haas wrote, ‘A picture is the expression of an impression’. Frequently I ask, ‘Why do I want to take this photograph? Why have I stopped? What feeling, what impression has the subject evoked in me? How can I best capture and express that feeling?’ If I cannot answer these questions satisfactorily I have nothing to contribute; no creative energy with which to enliven or interpret; nothing to say.