I’m still on the road. The family is too big now for simple logistics around Christmas time, and me and the boys have driven 2500 km. My plan was to stop frequently to take photos, but in practice this would have been torture for the kids, and when you start a journey like this, you just want to get there.
Consequently, I’ve taken fewer photos, some of them out of the window. There’s been no shortage of interesting subjects, just few opportunities to get out and take photos of them.
I’m a strong believer in the importance of limitation and restriction in the creative process. Dodgy cameras like the Holga impose strong constraints. Being stuck in a car for days on end imposes different sorts of limitation.
In previous posts I’ve discussed how the subject of a photo is always something, some time or some event that is gone from us from the moment the shutter fires. Photographing your way through a journey is no different, except you’re more focused and linear in the sequence of memories you lay out. Travelling, photographing and not being able to photograph reminds me of two things.
When I was a young child, my Dad took me to the local art gallery to see an exhibition by an abstract artist from Israel, Yaacov Agam. Agam’s work mixed painting and sculpture, and was very conceptual. I wish I could see it again now.
One piece I remember distinctly was a series of iconic, abstract images painted on a long roll – an image dispenser of a sort. There was also a pair of scissors. The idea was this: every day you would unroll a little more of the painting and snip it off. Eventually, the roll would end, and the owner would have consumed the images. At age seven, I don’t think I really understood the full implications of this metaphor.
The second is a Flickr conversation with Flickr luminary (gAbY). She had posted a very interesting image, that I liked but that somehow didn’t grab me: two stills from a public domain video. (Throught the magic of WordPress, it’s here twice and I can’t seem to do anything about it.)
Mermaid by (gAbY)
I explained to Gaby that, while I liked the image, it didn’t feeel “grounded” somehow – it wasn’t an image taken by a particular photographer, but rather an image of something she had liked, and had merely “pressed the button two times.” (This really says something about how I as a consumer of photography view the relationship between image and author – but that’s another topic, I think.)
Something about this phrase, though, has stuck with me. Pressing the button two times. Pressing the button three times. Taking this photo rather than that. All along the spectrum, from the casual photographer building up an album that will define their family and cement their personal history, to a high pprofile portrait photographer building up a professional trajectory, aren’t we all just “pressing the button two times?”
With that, I’ll leave you with another photo, that is a photo of a road, or maybe of a metaphor of photography. Photography as travel. Each press oof the shutter a snip oof Agam’s scissors.