Thursday, November 11, 2010

I've got my eye back!

PARENTHETICAL ABANDON-HOPE-YE-WHO-ENTER-HERE THOUGHT: This may well be a long, long post. I have things to say, and intend to plod through them 'til I get to the end. This ain't Twitter, you know.

Yes, thanks to a very dear friend who understands me (and understands what drives me), I have a camera again. I couldn't be more pleased -- peering through that viewfinder is like breathing for me.

It has been a long time since my faithful Canon digital gave up the electronic ghost. Nineteen interminable months, in fact. During that time, I've had experiences and have been to places where the camera would have played an important role. But it wasn't there. I have not been pleased. In a way, I felt crippled without a camera.

When my friend -- no mean photographer herself -- told me the camera was on its way, I started doing what I used to do instinctively: I looked around me, searching for things to photograph. Where I Am Now is not exactly a photographic paradise; to be honest, it is dull as tepid bathwater visually.

It didn't take me long to see my first subject, though, and that brings me to Part Two of the story.

My godfather C. K. was a photographer, first as a Navy combat cameraman in the Pacific during World War II, then as a professional, and finally as an instructor at a well-known college for photographers and industrial designers. C. K., who met my father when both were teaching at that school, encouraged my early efforts with a plastic box camera. His advice was all the "schooling" in the craft I ever received.

Not content to pass along his own skill, C. K. showed me the work of a colleague at the school, a man whose talents he revered. That's how I learned about Will Connell; hazy memory tells me I met the man at some point, but it was his book, About Photography, combined with some prints of his work that had ended up in C. K.'s hands, that really grabbed my attention.

PARENTHETICAL FUNNY-WHAT-STICKS-IN-YOUR-MEMORY NOTE: I have always remembered the words with which Connell began the book: "The book will probably do nobody any good, because those who need it won't understand it, and those who understand it won't need it...." That has essentially become my philosophy when I'm asked to teach people how to do things...especially where photography is concerned.

From my fuzzy recollection of Connell, he was remarkably like C. K. Both men earned the old (and now politically incorrect) title of "Man's Man." They were rugged, outdoorsy guys with the eyes of artists.

Connell was famous -- at least to the "art" crowd -- for his sensitive and very human portraits and his photos of historic buildings. But his true genius, as I saw it, was as an industrial photographer who could make compelling and beautiful images from such prosaic subjects as aircraft plants and machines. And powerlines.

C. K.'s advice to me dovetailed perfectly with what I took from Connell's work. First, he told me to start with black and white film: "Color doesn't tell a story," he said. "The image does." This tied in with everything else he told me, the essence of which was that every photograph has to tell a story. Doesn't necessarily matter if the photographer and viewer take different stories away with them, but the story has to be there.

Connell's rich, black and white images of power transmission towers were compelling to me when I was young and impressionable, and remain so today, when I'm old and impressionable.

As a result, I was drawn, new camera in hand , to the local power lines....




Naturally, I've taken many other photos in the days since my new "eye" arrived. Some of them, or future images of wildly differing types and mainly in color, will get posted. I'm back to the habit of carrying a camera with me everywhere. I'll get better with it, too -- we're still getting acquainted.

But my first effort was guided by long-ago, long-gone influences who had so much influence on whatever "good" photos I've taken. So this is for you, C. K., and for Will Connell, the Master.

And for you too, D. You have given me back one of my greatest joys.

7 comments:

Joan Perry; Sidewalk Curator said...

Oh good! I love that last shot.

Doug said...

When Wifey took our only camera with her on vacation about four years ago, I nearly bought another one but toughed it out (I ended up buying a DSLR, later on).

I know what you mean about feeling crippled without it. If I'm not working and I'm out and about, I take the camera, even to the grocery store.

When I go out to shoot something, I mostly end up with nothing. Most of the things I have photographed, waved and hollered at me as I glanced at them :-)

Power lines and pylons make for strong images. I like yours, and I'm glad you got your eye back, Scribbs.

aka mag said...

I am in total agreement with Joan. Oh heck, I love both of the photos. I'm smiling a huge smile for you, Scribbs.

MrScribbler said...

Good to hear from some class-act photographers! Thank you Joan, Doug and "Mag."

It may seem strange that a word-spewer would be so reliant on photography for story-telling. But I have to do both. Have to.

Youse guys understand that....

Dorrie said...

I, too, understand you... I now have my camera in my backpack with me every day. But lately I haven't been too motivated.
A lot of inspiration I get from our friend Doug. I often see things and think, how would Doug photograph that?

wildstorm said...

Yes! So glad you have a camera and I like those photos, especially the last one. The camera is with me everywhere I go. I don't want to miss out on anything.

John0 Juanderlust said...

I'm glad you got the means to work the mojo.
Nice shots. I like these in B&W.
In other fields I can relate to the story behind your photography.