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Photography and writing… In every tutorial, article, or book, story telling is one of the strong elements of a successful photograph. Is that because an interesting and beautiful image can become great, only when it satisfies our curiosity and confirms our expectations with an interesting plot, or the quote ‘one image equals a thousand words’ is only about photos that truly have a thousand words to say?
Every work of fine art has a background of choices and decisions, events and incidents that occur before, or during its creation; thus, everyone is willing to pour light in this hidden process and learn more about the result. This is one of the ways that helps us to understand and interpet what we see.
For photography things are more complicated to be defined due to its “instant” nature. Although preparations, scheduling and post processing may last longer, in most of the times the creation is completed in one second with a click. And, all the interest is not only about what happened in the scene before, during, or after the photograph, but also what was chosen to be shown, or to be neglected inside the frame.
Yesterday, I found this interesting book, The Short Story and Photography, 1880’s-1980’s: A Critical Anthology, Jane Marjorie Rabb that has stories about photography from important writers like Ionesko, Konan Doyle, Cortazar and others. And, I believe that gives many food for thought about photography and its impact as a visual medium of narration.
“Many writers compare photography to the short story as the extraction of a few simple truths ‘worth the trouble to stay and watch’, as Cortazar puts it. Like taking photographs, writing requires the ‘duty to be attentive … waiting for everything to happen,’ shaping actions within a clear frame. Taking photographs is an ‘activity in which one should start becoming an adept very early…, teach it to children since it requires discipline, aesthetic education, a good eye … I’m not talking about waylaying the lie like any old reporter,’ observes Cortazar’s photographer, who feels compelled to give words to what led him to make his pictures. ‘I have write. One of us all has to write if this is going to get told.” (The Short Story and Photography, 1880’s-1980’s: A Critical Anthology, Jane Marjorie Rabb, University of New Mexico Press, 1998).
As Jane Rabb observes in her introduction of the book, photography has a capacity for both documentary reality and moral and psychological ambiguity. Moreover, this is an inevitable question to be answered; why this story and this unrepeatable scene was chosen to be captured eternally, before it is gone forever in the unseen and unknown archives of the past. Or, photograph just plays with its magic stick, adjusting the light and trapping the ephemeral and the common…
I don’t know about the others, but in my case these “short stories” are usually captured by my camera instinctively and sometimes I see in my pictures things I didn’t notice before and I wonder “How is this possible?” It’s so obvious that most of the times we see what we want to see and we find what we search for. And, once again photography becomes the window not only to the outside world, but also to our inner self.
All the photos and text are my original copyrighted work © All Rights Reserved by Ioanna Papanikolaou.