Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
My friends, I was "raised" photographically by photo agencies like Magnum Photos and National Geographic. I learned how to shoot photojournalistically before I learned the first thing about weddings. So naturally, I carry some sort of gravitas in some of my images. In any field, though, I think photography does a really good job of portraying the eternal clash between the ying and yang of human nature—namely, fear and desire.
You might also call it love and hate. Or good and evil. Whatever your take is, any image tends to lean towards one or the other. Either a picture of a happy dog jumping up in the air, or a grainy image of a ragged family overlooking a war-torn landscape that has seen better days. However, I guess the most evocative images are those that are the most ambiguous. Like this one::
This won Photo of the Year from World Press Photo.
Taken without context, you might think: war zone. Post-burglary. Somewhere in Russia or something (I just picked a country, no offense to Russians! :).
Taken in context, though, a different story. The caption reads:: "Following eviction, Detective Robert Kole must ensure residents have moved out of their home in Cleveland, Ohio."
Whoa! Now there's a story. But the mystery remains. Why is everything in such disarray? Did looters previously ransack the place? Amazing.
Sometimes I look at these "first place" photographs, and I think, What are they (the judges) thinking. It's grainy, blurry, slightly out-of-focus. It's not technically precise! Then I realize, anything goes in photojournalism. As long as the image's content tells a story, portrays an emotion, emulates either fear or desire (or somehow both!), it works as an image. Its content, the symphony of its elements, will trump technical skill every time. You can have the sharpest, crispest, most vibrant image in the world, and it still can't hold a candle to what another image's content may show you.
This gives me reassurance, because sometimes I don't focus so good! Check out the other World Press Photo contest winners to see what passes for amazing photography these days.