"As the language and vocabulary of photography
has been extended, the emphasis on meaning has
shifted - shifted from what the world looks like
to what we feel about the world and what
we want the world to mean."
- Aaron Siskind
What a perfect quote for the contemplative photographer! We can now concern ourselves with documenting the interior world through our images. We reveal the components of self by what we choose to pay attention to, how we frame the exterior world and, paradoxically, what we choose to ignore.
Aaron Siskind (1903 - 1991) is most often associated with the abstract expressionist movement in art. His close up studies of shape and texture are intentionally non-objective. That's why I found this quote so compelling. Perhaps, in his heart, he was a contemplative photographer. No matter. I don't think it is inconsistent to imagine a confirmed abstractionist thinking deep thoughts about himself and his world. After all, we are complex
"We look at the world and see what we have learned
to believe is there. We have been conditioned to "expect"
...but, as photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs."
It is sometimes said that to appreciate certain types of literature or movies we must "suspend disbelief" otherwise our overly rational minds won't be able to buy into the fantasy. Suskind is telling us to do essentially the same thing...that it is our belief system that impedes our vision. I think that is an important idea for ALL photographers to mull over.
Now that is a powerful thought to ponder - that our belief system impedes our vision. Does that mean we have no beliefs? I don't think so - just don't get too attached to them.
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