Friday, August 31, 2007

Photographic Musing

Wolf and I browse Art Wolfe's collection of photos in Alaska.

"Some of these shots are amazing," he confides, "but some are just kinda nice. Not like Jim Brandenburg, where all the shots are incredible."

I'm thinking the exact same thing. "Mmm," I agree. "Art Wolfe shows the way things appear. Brandenburg shows the way they really are. Their true selves. Their secret selves."

What makes that distinction? Its the same difference as the description of someone in their alumni profile vs. a story their best friend would share about them. I'm reminded of Robert Pirsig's pursuit of "Quality" in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

That's my relentless quest when I woo the world through my lens. I want to know the world the way I want to be known. I want that lover's intimate understanding of the heart and spirit at stake, and the skill to translate that onto paper and pass it on.

A photograph-- however beautiful, however technically brilliant-- is silent without its secret story to make it sing.


  1. It is the photographers aim to convey the secret story of the photograph, and there are so many visuals that lose the secret story in the transposition. Life is special.

    Pirsig makes me think of the Bear Tooth mts. Secret Story!

  2. This is true. It's great the way the Internet enlivens imagery and allows us ordinary folks to do that. The other day I found a slide show on Speaking of Faith about a dog and a polar bear making friends. It was amazing. The photographer narrated the show, and that was even better. (I linked it to my blog as a Friday Flick if you're interested). Speaking of Faith always does great things with images, FYI.