Monday, February 15, 2010

Quote by Berenice Abbott

The challenge for me has first been to see things as they are, whether a portrait, a city street, or a bouncing ball. In a word, I have tried to be objective. What I mean by objectivity is not the objectivity of a machine, but of a sensible human being with the mystery of personal selection at the heart of it. The second challenge has been to impose order onto the things seen and to supply the visual context and the intellectual framework - that to me is the art of photography.

- Berenice Abbott

A Guide to Better PhotographyBerenice Abbott American Photographer

Berenice Abbott, what an amazing photographer, and during what we, today might say were simpler times.  They were in fact more difficult times, comparing our technology to what she had to work with.  And that makes her accomplishments that much more spectacular.
According to Abbott, her methodology of the "art" of photography was first, to see the subject as they are perceived by the artist, in the context of the location, time of day, weather, and all the other elements that go into the visual scene.  Second, she attempted to "make order" of the scene so she could capture the photograph. 
The second part of that is what I would have difficulty with out in the "open air" type of photography.  In the studio, yes, of course, no doubt I like and insist upon making order of the subjects I'm photographing.  But, to do that out in the environment, especially a city setting, that would seem near impossible.  Maybe it didn't seem that way to Abbott, but to me, I find it unrealistic. 
Hey, I'm not one to argue with greatness; with masters of the craft, but I would say this:  "I prefer to take natural urbanscapes as they unfold, controlling nothing but my position, the camera lens, my angle-of-view, my shutter and aperture, my filters, my camera mode, the height of the camera from the ground, my ISO setting, and the time of day I go out shooting.
Those are the aspects (and could be more mentioned) that I can control, but I cannot prefer not to control the movement of the people, the direction of traffic, the flight of birds, and things like that.
I would have to study Abbott much more to figure out exactly what she meant, what her philosophy was on this.
Nevertheless, her results were spectacular.