Civilized ku # 3689 ~ don’t let anyone tell you what to do!

(Embiggenable) • iPhone

I've been wrestling with the making of a blog post over the past 4-5 days. A couple days ago I started one and was never able to finish it. The reason for that is connected to my 4-5 day wrestling match....

.... over the past week, or a bit more, there have a number of blog entry / commentaries on other photography oriented sites. All of the entries in question have been, iMo, nattering on, re: what, in their varying opinions, a photograph and the very medium itself is supposed to be about... it suppose to be witness or a representation? Is it "straight" or something else (usually worse)? Are all photographs a politcal act / statement? Is it a photographer's duty to save the internet by only posting pictures which are made with "love and compassion"?...

... and so it goes, on and on, ad nauseam

What all of these blog posts have in common, despite their divergence of opinions, is, of course, they are all just that - opinions. That's allowed but, as is often the case in the nature of expressing opinions, the opinionizers either state or imply that, if it's not done their way, then it's all crap.

DISCLOSURE I have, on one or the other of my past blogs, spent a fair amount of ink on my opinions, re: the medium and its apparatus. In doing so, I have on occasion cast aspersions on the thoughts and practice, which differ from mine, of others. BUT, I always made it clear that my ideas were applicable to my eye and sensibilities.

Vitually all of my opinionizing was undertaken in my quest to understand what the hell I was about, re: my picture making. That quest was undertaken under the thought umbrella of what is a photograph. Broadly written, that's the same umbrella under which the aformentioned opinions / opinionizers are operating.

All of that written, let me get to the point of this entry...after all my years of nattering on, re: what is a photograph / photography?, I came to a very simple conclusion....

...a photograph, in a printed form, is a physical / tangible and totally inhert 2D object. In and of itself, it is a thing. Specifically, a substrate of one kind or another upon which an image is affixed.

It makes no sound. It can not "speak". In has no instrinsic "meaning". It is, quite simply (and I believe, quite obviously) a thing-a picture (to use a common discriptor)-which can be perceived through the human capacity of sight.

If a picture is to have "meaning" beyond the sensation of being a pleasing / interesting thing at which to look, that "meaning" is almost entirely dependent upon the personal mental / intellectual / emotional / artistic sensibilities that an individual observer brings to his/her act of viewing the photograph. In other words, what a picture means is exactly what a viewer makes of it.

Consider as an example, Weston's Pepper No. 30 (if you don't know it, google it)....

Some might view it and think, It's just a pepper. What the big deal? And, why didn't the guy take the pcuture in color?....Others, with a more artistic sensibility, might be seduced by it's exquisitely rich and soft b&w tonality and pleasing shape. And, to revel in its sensuality is its raison d'etre....while still others with a more metaphysical bent might "see" the entire picture making exercise and its resultant image as a mystic revealment about the inner life of things and the universe itself....

....or, whatever. Who gives a damn about how anyone-other than one's self-looks at and comes to conculsions about a given picture? There is no "right" or "wrong" way to look at a picture. Or, as I would suggest, about any piece / form of art.

Case in point ... it's like Brian (the Jesus figure in Monty Python's movie, The Life of Brian) spoke to those who would be his followers:

"....You've got it all wrong. You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody. You've got to think for yourselves...You've all got to work it out for yourselves."

When the would be followers demanded that Brian "Tell us more!", Brain responded:

"No! That's the point. Don't let anyone tell you what to do!"