Nov 232014
 

Different people have different motivations to take photographs. Some do it for the memories. That’s the typical vacation shooter, often taking family pictures with varying backgrounds: Mom in front of the Akropolis, Dad in front of the Fontana di Trevi. There is nothing wrong with that, but it bores me. Always did.

A variation of that is someone shooting for memories, but without the people and with at least some attention to composition. That’s what I did in film days.

It’s interesting, of my vacation trips through Europe I have forgotten almost everything. Memories of the Provence or of Strasbourg are sparse, but I’ve pretty vivid memories of a trip through southern France not much later, only that this was the first time that I’ve used a camera. I came back with 32 films, 36 pictures each. That was pretty substantial for me and that time, and when I think of what I remember, then it’s almost only the places where I took images.

Of course one of the reasons is, that I saw the pictures later, but I think it was also the process of taking pictures. It made me look harder, made me see things that I’d have never seen consciously otherwise.

Some people, and this is prevalent among selling artists, make “conceptional work”. Yesterday I’ve seen an exhibition of contemporary Carinthian photography in Klagenfurt. As to be expected, almost everything was of the conceptual type. Series of images that exhibited a strong sense of sameness. One series (that I found particularly impressive, by the way) consisted of images of people in front of landscapes. Judging from the print size and the incredible detail, a medium format or large format camera had been used, though the actual prints were from an ink jet printer.

Four images had four different people right at the center, completely different landscapes in the background, but in all cases the person stood in more or less the same pose (rather no pose), looking straight into the camera, and the extra thin depth of field made for a very characteristic look that I can’t produce with Micro Four Thirds. A tilt/shift lens or movements on a large format camera seem to have been used, but I have not enough experience with those types of photography to say for sure. You can see for yourself, Christian Brandstätter is the photographer and the series in question is “animateria“.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like those images and I find them interesting. It’s only not what I want to do photographically. In a way to make such series of images would feel a little bit like doing a job for me 🙂

What I do is what you see in this post. I take the situation that I find myself in (here still waiting for the tires to be changed) and I exploit the geometry of what I see. Lines, distributions and balances of tones and colors. Yes, these are cars, but what I see is more or less an arrangement of lines.

In a way what I do now is still what I did on vacations 30 years ago. Then I documented the places that I visited and today I kind of document where I am, only that the actual place does not matter any more. What matters are much more abstract properties that I can find almost anywhere and that I can even construct if I need to. Which I normally don’t do, because that feels like doing a job as well 😀

The Song of the Day is “Long Line Of Cars” by Cake. I’ve numbered this post’s title, because a night-time variation will follow in two or three weeks.

Hear the song on YouTube.

  One Response to “2958 – Long Line Of Cars I”

  1. I like those photos by Christian Brandstätter. They are engaging in a very warm and friendly manner if that makes sense. Thanks for the link.

    I was fascinated with your observation connecting memories of a place with whether you took photos of it. You say that you remember a place better because you took time to see and compose photographs and not just because you have the photos to jog your memory.

    In my experience I would agree that those places where I did not use a camera are rather vague to me. My recollection of them is mostly hazy. Those places where I did shoot are without a doubt sharper in my recollection however, unlike you, I believe it is precisely because the photos are there to help my memory and not because I took the time to compose shots. The reason I say this is because many years ago I travelled for many months around Great Britain/Ireland, visiting Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales. I took many photos of each country but on our return to Australia I lost all the Ireland photos. Both the prints and the negatives. I can say that my memory of Ireland faded much more quickly than my memory of the other places I visited around that period. Many years later the photos were found (through sheer luck) and I was extremely surprised to find that what memories of Ireland I had were not only hazy but completely wrong, or at least not aligned with the photos in terms of time sequence, weather, colours, places etc. And the few photos that I did remember making were not as good as I remembered them which felt a little embarrassing.

    Admittedly, this is a purely anecdotal instance but I thought I’d share it. I think photos definitely help us remember things more clearly but that the act of photographing in itself does little to help. At least for me. Either way however, I do not trust memories.

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