Category Archives: thoughts

The artist as translator

Often, I’ll be lining up a shot with my camera, of some mundane urban subject, and passerbys will try to put themselves in a similar point of view to see what it is that I’m photographing. Inevitably, they walk away with no good answers, as if they had been listening to someone speak in a foreign language, surely wondering why I seem to be photographing nothing at all. But behind the camera, I’m thinking about composition and lighting, and a competent photographer would be thinking about the effects of particular film speeds and aperture settings. Presented with the resulting photo, the same passerby would have a completely different understanding, seeing the results of the cropping, the light, the exposure, the ordinary scene translated by the artist into some sort of creative expression. Of course, some photos will be more revealing that others; some may provide no insight at all. After all, what good is a translator if the speaker has nothing to say?