Sense of Presence
Why do some photographic images have a sense of presence? I am not referring to carefully hand-crafted prints in this question, but images. Take some of Fox Talbots or Atget’s images, which exhibit a wonderful power of presence. They are merely a photomechanical process. So how can such a detached process embody the soul of the creator?
That is a good question. I honestly think the answer lies in the photographer's true love for his subject. Ronis' Paris pictures make me weep for the beauty of that city. He knew and loved the places he photographed. His street photography never intrudes, but pays homage to the people, the places and the time in which he lived.
This is what makes a photographer a good photographer in my opinion. It's the core separator of what has true feeling vs what doesn't.
Isn't it about the ability/skill/talent of connecting 'through' the camera probably unconsciously in a lot of cases.
I played trumpet and it often amazed me how music came through a piece of bent brass with three valves to press - I blew in one end and out the other came music of a sort. That music contained all my experiences, my practise (the scales, the chords and the listening) - not only the sum total of my musical education but also my 'self'.
It's the same with any intermediary tool that's used for creative expression isn't it?
I was a trumpet major as well, and I recall an experience in music school which profoundly shaped my whole career as a music teacher. While the rest of us were practicing scales and repertoire, (and, I'm sure, arguing over tubing bore and mouthpiece specs) one trumpet player I knew would talk about the sensation of playing... what it felt like to play the notes; the impression a line, phrase or improvisation left behind in its passing. It opened my eyes to a whole new musical experience. He would not know it, but his example to me influenced hundreds of music students over my 30 year career.
Originally Posted by ajmiller
This talk of music and photographic expression reminds me of a quote I read in the Larry Fink book, Somewhere there's Music.
"You blow in this end of the trombone and sound comes out the other end and disrupts the cosmos." - Roswell Rudd
In regards to how a person achieves a sense of presence or "disprupts the cosmos", well, it's my creative life's goal to find out ;)
I appreciate the analogy, but can we return to visual imagery rather than music?
I think your answer is in your question. They both may have considered their work to be "carefully hand-crafted prints".
Originally Posted by cliveh
They also may have considered the medium to be more than "merely a photo-mechanical process" or a "detached process".
it is because the creators were one with the process.
photography was an extension of who and what they were.
Go take some street scenes in a surreal medium like black and white and in 100 years someone may think you're incredible too.
Make sure you blow the exposure, grind some grit into the negative, and print poorly and you're all set.
In 100 years you're a genius.
To me there is nothing all that special about the work like Atgets, just that it transports you back to another time. No great trick here.
Time does it on its own. It's called nostalgia.