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      The best camera is the one you have with you.  - Chase Jarvis


I chose a fishing shot to launch this collection because fishing is such

an apt metaphor for photography. Casting about in hopes of bringing

a big trout home for dinner is a lot like trying to create a successful

photographic image. By "successful" I mean a picture that seizes a

moment from the flowing energy of life and brings it into alignment

with the heart, mind and eye. If it happens to measure up to editorial

grade standards, so much the better.  

Like landing a fish, creating a photograph that works requires the right relationship with the evanescent nature of reality. "The creative act lasts but a brief moment," said the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, "just long enough for

you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box...The picture

is good or not from the moment it was caught in the camera." The camera as gun

is another "loaded" metaphor--the word "snapshot" being a case in point, a term derived from hunting and applied to the quest to capture moments in time with

a camera. Street photographers, like hunters, quickly realize that there are no guarantees and that the best bet is to let go of the delusion of control and go

with the flow, allowing the situation to yield its gifts without any greedy effort on the photographer's part. Photography as a creative experience can be like

assuming the character of Alice in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass,

the sequel to his classic Alice in Wonderland. The camera, for example, like Alice's mirror, can be an agent of altered perception and even a metaphor for spiritual realization. "Our ordinary waking consciousness is but one form of consciousness," wrote William James. "All around us lie infinite worlds, separated only by the thinnest veils." In Lewis Carroll's tale, the "veil" is lifted in a way that renders

Alice's ordinary consciousness more permeable and open to experience in playful, imaginative ways. "Let's pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so we can

get through," says Alice. On the other side of her mirror, she finds a great chess game in progress in a dreamlike, Kafkaesque world inhabited by surreal beings where nothing is what it seems. 


Like Alice, visual artists may experience processes of ego alteration and realize that their conventional mental conditionings are mutable via creative acts due to the amazing neuroplasticity of the human brain. Marcel Duchamp once prophesied that artists of the future would "be led to pass through the looking glass of the retina, to reach a more profound expression." Fulfilling Duchamp's prediction, the conventional human perception of reality as solid and substantive, for instance, may through art reveal how observed phenomenon are as evanescent as bubbles floating briefly in the air.


"Like air bubbles," writes Mataram V on, "each being is swayed by the winds of karma in the mortal world. Just like the human being, each bubble has a brief existence at the end of which it vanishes without a trace." Such insights may also facilitate greater alignment with the laws of Thermodynamics, and perhaps, as in the story of Charles Baudelaire's Le Flaneur, make it possible to

see the spiritual nature of reality with one's inner eye and discover "It's an immense pleasure to take up residence in multiplicity, in whatever is seething, moving, evanescent and infinite," as the great French poet describes the experience.

"You're not at home, but you feel at home everywhere; you see everyone, you're

at the center of everything yet you remain hidden from everybody--these are just

a few of the minor pleasures of those independent, passionate, impartial minds which language can only awkwardly define. The observer is a prince who, wearing

a disguise, takes pleasure everywhere...the amateur of life enters into the crowd as into an immense reservoir of electricity." 

But when it comes to photographic metaphors, I always think of Minoslov Tichy's comment "Photography is painting with light," which ties right in with the obser-vation by French painter André Derain who said, The substance of painting is light." One of my favorite contemporary photographers, Maine-based, seafaring photojournalist Peter Ralston states the case more emphatically. "The light, the light," he writes, "it's always about the light." Both painting and photography, after all, are about making pictures in the context of light energy, one of the indispensable raw ingredients of life itself. "Light is what makes things visible to the eye," Wynn Bullock wrote in his beautiful monograph of Big Sur photographs. "It is also what holds a rock together. My thinking has been deeply affected by the belief that all things are some form of radiant energy. Light is the most profound truth in the universe." 



While explaining in an interview published in The Guardian, August 9, 2007, about why he considered the photograph posted above his best shot, Magnum photographer Ian Berry said: "As a photographer, you're always looking for shapes, and for people to fall into the right place, but it doesn't happen nearly as often as you'd like. This is one of those rare moments. Cartier Bresson once said to me: 'If I take one good picture a year I'm doing well.' I think he was right."


Berry's comment launched a mad search through my own oeuvre for photographs that captured some of those "rare moments" when everything "fell into the right place." Much to my chagrin, there aren't very many. Henry Cartier-Bresson was right. Well, maybe more than one a year, Henri, but not a lot. Hopefully, I'll be able to add some more, good lord is willing and the creek don't rise. Meanwhile, in the galleries on this site there may be a few shots worth considering for the final cut. 

  Click on Eagle to start the show...

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