|November 3, 2002|
Impressions of the (Particular) Past
For six years I slogged my way up and down Central Avenue in Chicago every day. Potholes, bad weather, and shifting, clogging traffic, all of us jockeying to make our way.
Photography is a beautiful thing. What I like most about it is pretty simple, and takes only a moment to explain.
Consider our lives for a moment. You are you and I am me. Each of us has a life, and each of us only gets one life. We are inhabitants on the skin of the globe for a short space of time having flowered here for a spell before we wither and die. We will live out most of our lives in the thin film of atmosphere that clings to the ball of the Earth. Our lifespan is short and our time passes quickly (right, except while waiting in the line at the DMV). If you sleepwalk your way through life with your eyes on the ground two steps ahead, your life will flash by in a blur, and you won't recall much at the end but the trudging. Even to those who live their lives in a state of alertness, who've had lots of things happen to them and who've managed, despite those things, to sail through to old age without acquiring too great a baggage of sadness or bigotry, a full lifespan can seem all too short. We're all essentially visitors. We come, we're here, then we're gone.
During our stay, at least one wonderful thing happens: we get to experience life on Earth. Our lives, that is, as ourselves, on the regions of earth we inhabit, in the era we live in.
But just one life. That's the main point I want to make. "This train," as
David Letterman says, "is only going one way." And you only get one ride. So
the experiences we have, good or bad, are special...or no, that's not quite
the right word, because a lot of us don't feel special (and others of us
truly aren't). They're particular to us, is what I mean to
say. As I am a unique person, so are you; as your experiences during your
time on Earth are particular to you, so mine are to me.
A lot of people feel differently, of course, and that's fine. But I think
that's what makes pictures meaningful for me.
He was East Coast Editor of Camera & Darkroom magazine from 1988 to 1994 and Editor-in-Chief of PHOTO Techniques magazine from 1994-2000, where his editorial column "The 37th Frame" was a popular feature and where he presented, among other things, a set of three articles on "bokeh" by John Kennerdell, Oren Grad, and Harold Merklinger that were subsequently widely discussed among photographers.
His critical and technical writings have appeared in various publications
and newsletters such as The Washington Review and D-Max. A number of his
articles written under the pseudonym "L. T. Gray" (el Tigre) appeared in the
English magazine Darkroom User.
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