Tim Carpenter on a philosophy of art (and death)
To photograph is to breathe, be calm and solely focus on one subject. It is a peaceful moment in time that can lead to ‘Le Petit Mort’ on occasions. It is Love, Passion, Desire yet also intense Grief, Loss and Sadness. It is such a deep personal, intimate account of self reflection and personal choice. To photograph is to Be.
Currently, I am putting together a book of photographs and text about my later mother. Somehow photographs from pre-Holocaust Europe survived and made their way to Australia where I live. As I select and place many of these photographs into the book publishing software, I have many times looked intensely at the just-pre-war photographs of my mother and am drawn into a reverie about her life then and her beauty, and the knowledge that she could not know what horrors were about to befall her and her entire family and community. So, as I read the excerpt from Tim Carpenter's book, I felt the full force of his understanding of what is and what is not.
I love photography for its myriad contradictions—but mainly because it is simultaneously a medium of preservation and denial.
Using my camera gives me purpose in any given situation. It eases anxiety, slows the pace of life, and allows me to connect when I find it hard to speak.
Taking photographs (like writing) is how I process the world, how I document my life, and how I tell stories to share with others as well as those I keep just for myself. It's a record of who I've been in the world and what I've witnessed. It connects me to my Dad and my great-great-grandfather who were both photographers. It makes me slow down and come alive all at once. I wouldn't want to be without photographs - mine or other people's - and it's a gift to be able to make images every day!
For me, making imagery is a form of gratitude. Being wholly present. Beyond the shear witness of the ephemeral moment, light, and subject. The challenge and appreciation of a moment never before and never again. The unrepeatable. I think this is why my first real draw to photograph was photojournalism.
Photography invites us to look again, to calibrate our gaze, to become aware of the shifting filters we allow or unconsciously let color our visions. Photography opens doors. Offer poetic encounters. Let us fill in the blanks, the not seen, the shadows with our own ghosts, dreams, fantasies. Above all, as a photographer myself, it has taught me to see beyond, to see with the heart.
To answer your prompt, I love photography because it's a rare medium that is reflective of your changing needs- you can use it to find something organic that exists or to create something unreal that could never exist, to express yourself or to see someone else but it's never static.
Fascinating musings. Turning 75 this week, I took up serious photography a few years ago. Taking pictures of bare, black trees was pointedly purposed at dealing with death in some not so subconscious way. But putting aside the self-involvement aspect for a moment, I try to offer something to the viewer as well, by "making the invisible visible," a quote I always attributed to Paul Klee but haven't been able to find.
Photography is an act of translation that allows me to make sense of the world, to capture a slide of something I can’t make sense of and slowly connect the dots
there are infinite detailed, philosophical, artistic, philanthropist, exploitative, convoluted ways to describe one’s fondness of photography; which is simultaneously and equally a revered art form, a documentary practice, or a humble selfie — but one, concise thought encompasses my love for the widely diversified practice:
A picture is to say “Look, I saw something. And I saw it well.”
I think Garry Winogrand said it best:
“I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed”...been photographing for 46 ish years now and make modest money at it, but I still can’t do better than that quote.
Why do I love photography?
I love to have pictures of memorable scenes, but I'm lousy at drawing. That leaves photography as the only practical alternative.
Photography has the moment to bring life to different perspectives without barriers involved with literacy or other forms of traditional education. It’s an art that requires a steady hand and patience, but also a certain amount of luck. It preserves history, culture, and teaches us about ourselves. Thank you for the raffle!
I look at my images and sometimes wonder will all of this mean anything in the future, but I look at all the photos taken by my parents, grandparents and others with such zeal, and relish, they are small time capsules a recollection of a time and place that will never be the same.
Photography makes my heart beat. It has been the only constant thing in my life for over 25 years. I find the process immensely rewarding and getting to know different approaches to the same process inspires me to keep going and never stop. Visual poetry will save your life, it has saved mine.