Walking through the 42nd street station below ground in New York City my eye was fish hooked towards the color red pulsating from bright images. Red from a barber’s swirly candy cane open sign; red from a truck in the passing; red from photographer/painter Saul Letier’s vision and poetry of the capture.
Webster’s version burned across my memory as I proceeded up the stairs and out into the light. Poetry: the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken for exciting pleasure by beautiful imaginative or elevated thoughts, poetic spirit or feeling .
As photographers, recorders of history, do we look for the unfinished poetry in every image? Poetry in continuing the education of humanity? Why again, fellow photographers, do we photograph? We photograph to tell of the life lived around us, the history in progress, and the choices humanity strains for – but with poetic grace even in times of despair.
"One of the things photography has allowed me is to take pleasure in looking. I see the world simply. It is a source of endless delight," declared Letier. The photographer and painter speaks of a life lived through pictures in his book Early Color . A simple but poetic vision, one of true elegance in the spectrum of color seen through post WWII to the present, Saul Letier created pictures of what he saw, the simple breath of humanity and its poetic fragrance.
To take pleasure in looking: a profound statement in the world of documentary photographers, to simply notice. With all the photo essays and projects bringing attention and awareness to people who otherwise cannot be there, where throughout these endeavors do we as photographers rejoice in the poetry of the simple? The endless pleasure of looking at a world that is constantly in flux.
Spinning the racks of early twentieth century black and white postcards, down near New York University, I felt a sense of mystery in the photographic process and documentation. best seo agency . Imagery of life throughout taverns, workshops and on the road flooded my view and once again distracted my day to day duties. The poetry of the capture echoed before me dreams of other lives and landscapes only to be sold for quarters on a rack.
There was something missing in these pictures, something which kept me wanting for more, intrigued to feel the subject before me. As photographers when we strive to capture a story and collect data, do we remember the poetry of why we were so attracted to the subject in the first place? And when the book is completed do we feel more for those subjects or do we slap the dust of initial idea to the floor and move on in search of the same questions just on a different human face?
The craft of photography, even the strictest documentation, still requires an excellence and craftsmanship in rhythmic composition, poetic spirit and emotional response. As the tools of the trade become easier, faster and more manageable we tend to lose sight of the reasons why the still image struck a light in our eye on that fine hour where photography entered our hearts.
The exciting pleasure of the prose, the composition of the rhythm, the color of the Kodochrome and the common thread which makes a story worth thinking about signifies the necessity of simple poetry in picture making.