being ready

woman's shoulder in shade

shoulder light

“Any photograph has multiple meanings; indeed, to see something in the form of a photograph is to encounter a potential object of fascination. The ultimate wisdom of the photographic image is to say: ‘There is the surface. Now think—or rather feel, intuit—what is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way.’ Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy.” (Susan Sontag, On photography [1977]: p. 27.)

This quote from Susan Sontag’s classic book explains something about my approach to photography. In this day and age of extreme digital processing capabilities, the idea of documentary photography is rather anachronistic, except in a few very clearly defined areas. But the idea of mystery, of fascination with the surface of what is observed is a powerful catalyst to creativity. My entire life, I have been an observer, and a fairly close one at that, of the world. It is almost uncanny, now, that I have discovered photography at this stage in my life, because it allows me in some cases to fix the sort of fleeting instances of reality that have always caught my mind’s eye.

To me, the fascination of light playing on surfaces and at times making the atmosphere itself almost substantial is a wonderful thing. It almost does not matter what objects exist in that light, because they are transmuted into something else by the quality of light. What is it about that particular object in this quality of light that turns it into an aesthetic object, whether recorded on a camera sensor or a brain’s neurons? As Sontag says, we can only imagine what the reality is of what we observe. But perceptually, there is an impression that strikes me, that is clearly fleeting, as is all of life, and part of what I aim to capture in my photographs are these passing moments.

Gathering these moments requires a sense of presence and mindfulness to the moment that isn’t always easy to achieve. When they present themselves, though, it is enough to be ready and accept the gift. Behind the moment of exposure, there is the inner history of training of the eye and developing technique, and, more importantly, the cultivation of a vision of what as an artist I am seeking. Photography requires the world’s participation in a very different and direct way from the other visual arts. The moment comes, and then is gone, never to return. It is best to be ready.


About Ron Wiecki

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2 Responses to being ready

  1. Excellent. Well written.

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