Why Do We Desire the Task of Making Photographs?

October 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

WHY DO WE DESIRE THE TASK OF MAKING PHOTOGRAPHS?

English painter William Gilpin in an essay during the late 18th century related the following:

Nor is there in travelling a greater pleasure, than when a scene of grandeur bursts unexpectedly upon the eye, accompanied with some accidental circumstance of the atmosphere, which harmonises with it, and gives it a double value.

He also felt in the noticing how certain scenes in nature were so perfectly and aesthetically composed, that it was regretful the ‘picturesque’ moment in passing could not somehow be captured for continued enjoyment. In that expression, he was one of many during that early time who prompted innovation within the artistic movement toward the inventions of photographic brushes (cameras) and printing processes (treated surfaces and papers).

Is not true that many of us, as artists in one medium or another, desire first to capture those momentary views of what was seen and felt; and second, to then express to others the beauty or story of the world we live in?

I am not particularly motivated to capture the picturesque that Gilpin was referring to. However, when I instead use the word essence as a replacement, the desire to first save that moment of seeing is similar, I believe, to the need of capturing a picturesque scene in nature. And then, of course, moving on to the second step of finding ways to re-communicate, in my case, the essence of the subject to myself and others.

As with the early innovators, we too are constantly discovering and using new ways to communicate our captured views and perspectives. Not so much, I dare hope, for achievement vanities, but rather to simply add another voice. Again, first to ourselves and then to the at-large public.

The photograph within this blog submission has that momentary “burst of grandeur” Gilpin was referring to. It  was captured in the briefest of moments and for me I did feel a strong desire to re-communicate the essence of his story.


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