What Is The Photographer’s Input?
A camera is a machine which can stop time and frame space. A photograph is an image of time stopped and space framed. That seems to be about it. The artist might say: “This is how I see it”. The photographer might say: “This is how it was”. There may be a little overlap but not enough to suggest that the two are embarked on a common endeavour. The photograph seems to me to be more like a short poem, or a paragraph that you read somewhere and try to remember because it strikes a chord and sends something wraith-like smoking through your brain. You try to pin it down but you can’t – any more than you can pin down the essence of your own thoughts. Or maybe a pop song would be a better simile: something potent but ephemeral. Some people like to discuss photography’s status as Art and good luck to them: but I feel no impulse to do that.
I took the photograph above when I was in Paris recently. Naturally, you can’t be in Paris, camera in hand, and not think of the great French photographers. They seemed to understand that a photograph is not a message from the photographer but a message from the world. So they got out of the way of the world’s message. I have no doubt that their ghosts were in the back of my mind as I peered over this balcony. Snap, I went. Time stopped and space framed.