Tuesday, May 13, 2008

McLean Virginia

Today I was browsing through a great book called simply The Photography Book. It's basically a textbook/encyclopedia containing 500 of the most well known art photographs ever taken.

The one that caught my eye today catches my eye almost every time I open the book - McLean, Virginia (Joel Sternfeld, 1978). This photo has always blown me away - the austerity and the irony of the pumpkin farm in the foreground with a fireman browsing to buy a pumpkin, while the farmhouse burns in the background. Simply amazing. And well, I must say I'm a little partial because it reminds me so much of Iowa where I grew up.

But the thing that this photo continues to remind me is that (for me) photography is (should be) about an idea. It's not about taking a moment anyone can see or shoot and then polishing it to death in post production. But rather, it's about finding a moment or a person or an object that means something. And capturing it, documenting it in a way that means something. Not just setting up wide open, zooming way in and then dialing up the color in photoshop.

I think the line in the book sums it up best: "Sternfeld is drawn to bathos or to subjects in which what we understand as History is offset by everyday incidents."

Honestly though, even the definition of the word bathos inspires me (maybe because it's actually a one-line summary of my everyday life...lol). Bathos: a ludicrous descent from the exalted or lofty to the commonplace; anticlimax.


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1 comment:

MEBDesigns said...

I was drawn to this post because I currently live in McLean, Virginia. What a moment to capture!