What is "the Eye"? (cont’d)

A disclaimer here… I never have considered myself to have a lot of artistic sensibility. Until someone pointed out to me that as a photographer, I am an artist. What? Really? Well, that debate raged on in the early years of photography until one day “they” decided that a photographer was indeed an artist. Really now, anyone can point a camera and fire off a photo. In this digital age, it’s even much easier. Crazy easy. There are some pessimists out there who feel that the days of photographic artistry are over, that the days of photojournalism are over, due to the plethora of cameras. Anyone with a cell phone has a camera in their hand. Some of these cameras aren’t even half bad. I personally feel we are on the edge of a whole new era in photography. The new digital SLR’s coming out are in short, astoundingly good. Tony Sweet, a well known pro shooter, has been having tons of fun with his new iPhone…and of course creating some beautiful images with it. To paraphrase John Lennon… “I’m an artist, give me a tuba and I’ll make something out of it”. Yea, it’s also a line from “The Departed” but he really said it.

Well, we all know that the artistry of photography happens…somewhere else. Really it begins in the eye of the photographer. It comes to fruition in the darkroom, whether it be a wet or dry one is irrelevant. Not many people are using wet darkrooms these days. To my regret, I never had the fun of inhaling those chemicals to process my own images. I’ve watched the process and found it fascinating.

These days, I get nearly as much joy out of sitting in front of the computer and processing images as I do out of the shooting. Almost.

The last image I posted here was in color. As I looked at its thumbnail on Facebook, I was suddenly struck with a thought of how it would look in black and white. So here you are, the previously mentioned image, in black and white. While this isn’t quite what I saw, I really wanted to post this to make a point. Your ‘eye’, what you see, your vision, can often change. I’ve had images that I’ve taken in years past, that for one reason or another didn’t speak to me. Then later, something about them, well, did speak to me. Or I remembered why it is that I took that image in the first place. Or I saw another way to process it, according to how I ‘saw’ that image later. Hell if I know. I just saw it differently and said ‘hmmm…’. What I saw, in that color image, was textures, shapes, lines, gradations. It was small enough that the details weren’t overshadowing everything else I guess.

That boys and girls, is yet another aspect of what makes our photographic eye. It’s somewhat of a misnomer, because it starts in our mind, our vision of what we saw, or how we wanted it to be seen by…everyone else. That is art. Who knew?

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