Today I stumbled upon an essay in Arcade Magazine that will be a source of photographic inspiration for a long time. From photographer Michael Burns, “Desiring the Act…the Experience:”
“As a photographer, I seem to desire an awful lot. Or at least, I want to photograph an awful lot. I don’t desire the object of my intention but the very act of photographing. It’s been said that photographic depiction is a way of having a kind of proxy experience of reality, a way of hiding behind a safe, powerful and voyeuristic stance—making photographs in lieu of direct involvement in the real. But what if the act of photographing is the experience I’m after?
What am I really desiring in my photographic work? Do I really want to experience … to possess every rock in the desert I’m photographing? Every structure, vista, street theatre, woman or man, known or unknown to me? Maybe I want a little of that … maybe. But I certainly desire the photograph. Even more, I desire the act of photographing. The rush of the moment of split-second recognition, valuation and response embedded in an overarching awareness of thousands of photographs I and hundreds of others have made within the history of the medium; the differences between me and all those others who have made pictures before me and, all importantly, the tone of the image—that subtle and persuasive resonance with the instant, the light, framing, meaning and configuration. To sidestep the obvious, to see what others could not have prepared themselves to see, in that very particular way.”
Having read that, I think maybe I don’t have anything more ever to say about Why Take Pictures.
I called Michael up to ask if I could use an excerpt of the essay and an image or two and we had a great conversation. If you go to his website you will find perhaps the most minimalist and discreet presentation of a photographer’s work you have ever witnessed in this age of Lots of Stuff. [Read more…]