He wanted the lens. Shiny. New. It had just been placed in the camera store window. True, he didn’t really need another lens; but he wanted it anyway. It was a large, fast lens, finished in black. Just the right focal length and speed to fill the gap in his stylish camera bag. It would fit each of the three bodies he frequently carried and look especially impressive when mounted along with the motor drive and handle mount flash. It is fair to say that he lusted after the lens. The wide front element beckoned him into the shop.
The Sales Person eagerly retrieved the lens from the window for a closer, more personal examination. Handing it over, the Sales Person smiled suggestively as the Customer began to lovingly fondle it.
He turned the silky smooth focusing ring and listened intently to the sharp clicks as he rotated the aperture ring. He peered through the elements front to rear and reversed. He tilted the lens obliquely to survey the thin coating. He carefully inspected the lens barrel for scratches. Finally, with a playful hesitation borne of anticipation, he brought the lens to the throat of the camera - waited briefly - and then confidently inserted the rear element into the lens mount. He rotated the lens and smiled inside as he heard the confirming click. He released the lens and then inserted it again and again until he was satisfied that it was a sturdy mechanism.
He asked the price. Pleased with the reply, he smiled and handed off his charge card. He had to have this lens.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Monday, January 16, 2006
"It was a good buy" he thought while driving home. The salesman was right. Just what he needed. His last camera had too many buttons and dials. He had tried to take a class, but it got too confusing; all those numbers to remember. And he never did get the hang of depth of shutter--or was that focus? This new camera was just the ticket. It would do everything for him. He parked in front of his apartment and grabbed the bag from the seat beside him. He was eager to try it out. He locked his car doors and hurried in to show his wife his new purchase.
He set the bag with the camera on one end of the kitchen table and a new box of film on the other end. "Watch this!" he said.
The camera rolled out of the bag on its six all-terrain wheels and headed directly for the film. It skidded to a halt as its back sprung open. The couple watched in amazement as the camera devoured the film--box and all. Some clicks and whirs later, the box emerged neatly folded from a slot near the bottom of the camera. "Just what you needed!" the wife chided, "It loads the film all by itself!"
A small periscope popped up out of the top side of the camera and rotated until its computer chip controlled electronic eye spied the couple across the table. The wheels quickly maneuvered the lens to face them as a cheery computer voice chirped "Smile! Your picture will be ready in ten seconds."
Moments later, a full color snapshot in brilliant (not lifelike) color emerged from the slit in the front of the camera. "It's just what I needed," said the husband. "It took a beautiful picture and I didn't have to do anything."
Sunday, January 08, 2006
It is different for the photographer. The writer or the painter - they begin with a blank sheet. Whether from the center or edges, letters or colors invade the void. These artists reach deeply inside to fill the blankness with themselves. The writer specifies the first through last words. He determines the rhythm and flow of the work. The painter selects colors and dictates composition. The writer and painter create their art. The work is of the artist.
It is different for a photographer. His medium is physical reality. He is the blank sheet. Unexposed film becomes the photographer's self. Through the camera, the photographer perceives the world: it fills him. The camera acts only to filter physical reality; to distort it; to make it palatable. Content is choreographed by fate, color is randomly distributed. In the end, it is the art that creates the photographer.
Monday, January 02, 2006
The young photographer and his bride rose early, dressed quickly, and then climbed into their fully packed station wagon. With a long drive ahead of them, they stopped at the drive-thru for a cup of coffee to keep them company. Their anticipation minimized the conversation. “Did we bring the hooks? Did you pack lunch?” covered most of it. This was a big deal. They were on their way to his first art fair.
He’d shown his photographs before, but only on a casual basis. He had a few pieces hanging at work which regularly elicited positive unsolicited comments. Dreaming that he had talent, she helped convince him to take the plunge. Applications were obtained. Slides prepared and sent. They kissed in elation at the arrival of the acceptance letter, then grimaced upon realizing the work and expense. But they were a strong and young couple. They had a love which bestowed mutual support, and that eccentric delusion of youth which promised them that they could go anywhere and be anything. Individually, they smiled inwardly this morning, each convinced that he was on his way.
They arrived at the city park near the river and located their chain linked booth near a large oak. It was a lovely summer morning. Unpacking came easy; excitement lightening the heavy boxes. With the care afforded a first home, they draped the neutral fabric over the garish fencing. They hung the work carefully, anticipating the eye movements of the coming crowd. They stepped back, then rearranged; thought and discussed; then they rearranged again.
The early crowd began to wander by as they were still perfecting their mini-gallery. Some stopped to look. Mostly they strode by, clutching either their spouse’s hand or their dog’s leash. It wasn’t until later that the kids with painted faces and the parents with wagons and strollers would arrive.
One reason he was here was to listen to what the public had to say about his work. He thought of himself as a serious photographer, but he wasn’t sure what others thought. Of course, whenever you asked anyone directly about your photographs, they always put on a polite smile and voiced an encouraging reply. He told himself that he didn’t care how little he sold. He told himself that what he really wanted an honest critic.
It was easy for him to eavesdrop on the crowd’s conversations, but he found little worth noting until later in the afternoon when a well dressed couple escorting a terrier stopped. They stood silently in front of his work, looking carefully at each image. Even their dog seemed to get into the act as he sniffed along the fence at the bottom of the booth. They spent some time gazing at his work. He could sense them internally evaluating his photographs. His breathing quickened. At last, someone was responding to his work. What would they say, he wondered?
Then came one of those absurd happenings, almost over before it even began. The photographer, his senses heightened with anticipation, experienced the moment in slow motion. He watched as the terrier lifted his leg and peed on his work. He wanted to shout, but nothing came out of his quivering mouth. The well dressed couple looked down, then at each other. Nodding their heads as if in agreement, they turned and left his booth. His most promising prospect of the day. Gone. Selling not a single print, he quietly cried on the way home as his wife fell asleep in the passenger seat.