Moments in Time

(via The Online Photographer)

(This is more of a series of thoughts that have been bouncing around this afternoon than a single, coherent post.)

As I was making the rounds among the various blogs I read I came across a link to a narrated slideshow about the photography of Constantine Manos. In it, we are treated to a series of photographs taken over Manos’ career as he turns his lens toward some of the diversity in American culture.

Personally, after viewing the slideshow I felt as though, on the whole, the majority of his work wasn’t my style. And if I just went on the visuals alone I might take that as my only impression. However, as the show continues he elaborates on how his philosophy of photography has evolved and that shooting in a more documentary style helps him to understand the world around him and his unique perspective added to my own understanding of his work.

One of the interesting points that he raises is that the 80 shots of real-world subjects at an ISO of 1/250 span years, decades even, but when combined represent less than one second of time. And each of those moments, because they were not produced artificially in a studio, will never occur again.

Another point he discusses is the beauty of a great shot. Like poetry, every element plays a role in the composition and if even one element was removed it could alter the overall feeling of a piece. Manos says that because every word, every piece of punctuation is important in expressing the true meaning and emotion of a poem and that removing a comma could alter everything (a point I once discussed at length in a Bible study, actually). So too is the effect on a photo if you crop it a certain way or clone out an undesirable speck.

A friend of mine used to hate the fact that I would do some color correction with photos because it wasn’t being true to the moment. Now, cameras haven’t always been able to capture exactly what your eye sees and some manipulation after the fact is necessary to bring the image closer to the reality or to improve upon it. Granted, in some situations – documentary photography, photojournalism, etc. – there is a very fine line between what is and is not acceptable/ethical but photography as an art form isn’t and shouldn’t be restricted by the same rules.

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