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The Photographer

"The world is deep;
deeper than day can comprehend."

Nietzsche





To see the world through the lens is to present it in a way other than how we see it with our eyes. That landscape or that smile can both be so familiar to us already; but when seen in a photograph, it must be able to summarize in one aspect the totality of all its manifestations in one showing. Immortalized in a mere snapshot, what is presented strikes for itself a claim in our visual world and memory. It gathers itself in one showing that reveals all there is to be revealed and in that very giving hides all that can be hidden from view. For the most revealing photographs are those that show that there lies something hidden in those eyes or something beyond that horizon. So the subject is in a difficult position of balancing what can be shown and what can be withheld, or what can mean something or what points to something else. For to reveal too much would endanger its becoming a symbol, and to hide everything would make it impenetrable. The photograph, with its unforgiving manifestation, has to play with light and darkness in able to do just that. And perhaps that is all what photography is, a play of light, colors and shades that penetrates the blank canvass of our gaze. By playing with the foreground and the background -- by distorting the very horizon of sight -- it calls on us to see what it tries to show. This is why a photograph beckons us, it speaks to us; it wants to say something that neither the photographer or the subject perhaps never did wish to say. Hence the delight of the photographer who captures, or better, chances upon, something that suddenly speaks in a photograph that he wasn't able to see even with his own eyes. He does not know if he had taken a good photograph until he sees it before him in print -- only then can he actually see what he has seen or didn't see. That is why he shoots away at the world trying to capture its thousand and one ways of showing and manifestation for it can never hide itself for too very long before an eye that wishes to see. The photographer only wishes to describe through his own eyes what he was able to see in the world. To be sure, he can never expect the other to see as he does; the world can never be the same world for each person and if beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, the world will present itself to others in a variety of ways. Hence the photographer waits on the world and its symbols as a watchman waits on the horizon for the coming of a visitor or guest. It does not know what will come but it is ready nonetheless. The world can never hide for too long. And it, like the photograph, can never lie.

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