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Sunday, May 24, 2009

The secret life of photographs

It all started when I recently watched a documentary on the history of photography. At one point, the discussion veered towards the idea that photographs reveal not only what the photographer saw when composing the image, but also what the photographer did not see. Doesn't quite make sense, does it? Not at first, but closer examination reveals that this is indeed correct -- and quite fascinating.

Have at look at the artwork above. I could tell you I specifically and thoughtfully took this photograph of a woman jauntily walking south on Parliament Street. I could tell you she's a friend of mine, posing for me. I could tell you all that, but it would be a lie. Here's the truth. The captain and I were in the car, heading downtown, and as the traffic light was changing from red to green I noticed the amazing artwork on a restaurant and quickly took a photograph. That's it. I did not have time to use my zoom and carefully focus on the restaurant's wall, so I ended up with a very busy photograph of the whole corner: people walking everywhere, people waiting for the streetcar, the cars on the street in front of us, etc. And when I reviewed the photograph later, there was this woman, a wee tiny part of the image. I cropped in close to isolate only her, and then had some photoshop fun.

I photographed her, but I never, ever saw her. Something to think about.

1 comment:

Susan Williamson said...

I really enjoyed this post ...both the image and the words. I thought about your last sentence and decided that you actually did see her, just not when you took the photograph. (Time is elastic, I think).

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