Sunday, July 15


After a brief perusal of the first quotation collections that came up on a Google search, I couldn't find an attribution for, "History is just one damn thing after another," so I'll instead open this post with a similar line from The History Boys. This gem is delivered by Rudge while being questioned in preparation for his Oxford interview (you'll have to imagine the thick English accent). "How do I define history? Well it's just one fucking thing after another, isn't it?"

History, if taken as the summation of all recorded events, may be that way but only because there is no end it is moving towards, no philosophy of action. An article I recently read did postulate the necessity of perceiving populations as super-super-organisms for evolutionary studies, which suggest the possibility of some observable guiding consciousness, but that's beside the point. Our lives don't have to be just one fucking thing after another, but they will become that way if there is no intention in our lives, if we do things without a reason.

Recently, I've taken up black-and-white, film photography as a hobby. My dad gave me one of his old camera bodies and a few lenses for Christmas, and I finished a photography class a few weeks ago. The practice has appealed to me immensely, and I've kept up with it, having spent three hours developing four rolls and printing negatives last night.

Why do I do it? What makes it more than a distraction, another fucking thing that just marks the time before I die? What is my philosophy of photography?

From what little reading of done of some the masters, Arbus wanted to peer into the relaionship between the subject and the photographer and their environment. As much as anything else, it seems like Uelsmann just wanted to see what he could pull off.

As for me, I want to capture some of the beauty of everyday life. I want to frame something that one sees everyday but continually fails to notice so they do notice it and how wonderful it is. The phrase, "Stop and smell the roses" is cliche, but the sentiment is the same. If someone sees one of my pictures and leaves to find something on their way home, that's about all I want, as far as photography goes at least.

The only difficulty now is getting that good.


Emmett said...

I'm sorry to be ignorant, but who is/was Arbus?

Chris said...

Diane Arbus is one of the names in photography because she, like all major art figures, redefined what was possible with her medium. Her best known pictures are of people. Composition isn't that exciting, generally the subject square in the center and looking straight at the camera. What was so different about her work was the focus was upon the relationship between the subject and photographer and their environment. Most of the meaning found in her work is implied. has a decent collection of her stuff, but you'll need to do a Google search to see her "freaks," which she is probably best known for, besides the twins and child with a toy grenade.

No worries about not knowing her. As far as I can tell, the only photographer whose name, not just their photos, is known is Ansel Adams.

This just occurred to me, you know who Uelsmann is then? I'm impressed.

Emmett said...

When I visited the Tate Modern museum last time I was in England, they had a small exhibit of some of his photos. I thought they just looked strange, but I am, admittedly, a philistine.