Memory, Meaning and Authors

About the only negative thing I can say about Stacy Oborn’s The Space in Between is that I wish Stacy would write more. Her photography-related blog is already one that I like to frequent. I cannot fault her for her pace, though, since she confessed that she tends to take time on her blog entries, a process evident in the thoughtfulness of her pieces (in contrast to my rather slapdash efforts). I was happy to see "Perfect Images, Written Photograps and the Absolute," Stacy’s first entry of the new year, a well-written essay about "memory, experience and self-hood." Wonderfully, her discussion veers towards thoughts on Roland Barthes, Marguerite Duras and Herve Guibert.

of course, not carrying pen or camera around everywhere does leave you without the tools to sometimes finish seeing the thing you were open to and only you could see, or to remember all the details of something after the moment has passed.  every writer or photographer, whatever their persuasion (and an infinite variety exist between the two points i have described above), know and have felt this.  the lost moment.  the perfect image gone forever, the beginnings of the great story lost to the overcrowded mind.

Also take the time to check out the photographs of Barthes (and his mother), Duras (and her mother) and Guibert (a self-portrait) that Stacy has posted.

I find author photographs fun. While I am more into street photography, portraiture holds even more interest when there is an excuse for me to call it literary related.  Favorite Henri Cartier-Bresson, while better known for his street photography, once put together a collection called Tete a Tete (online at the National Portrait Gallery; the portraits include photographs of writers such as Truman Capote, Carson McCullers and William Faulkner).

Cartier-Bresson is not alone when he calls portraiture "the one domain which photography has won away from painting." From the invention of photography in 1839, everyone recognized the camera’s ability to render a technically accurate likeness of a face. But in the hands of Cartier-Bresson, a photographic portrait seems transparent, as if no photographer has intervened between the subject and the viewer.

The National Portrait Gallery also has an online version of one of my favorite writers in its 1999 exhibit Picturing Hemingway: A Writer and His Time. Marion Ettlinger (Media Bistro Q&A), who made her reputation off of author photos, had her work collected in the book Author Photo. She is well worth studying for her use of natural light.

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