Friday, November 03, 2006


Every Photo, every "Once" in time is also the beginning of a story starting "Once Upon a time". Every photo is the first frame of a movie. Wim Wenders said so in his photo book Once.

I like the "the stillness of a moment" captured by the frame of a photographer. For, the moment, unless it is posed, can not be repeated. But I am not sure, it always promises "once upon a time". Some occasions are not the begining or ending of a story. It just exists. It just was a moment, once, or, better so.

Although this photo taken by my friend Zhang Hai of me and a friend at the beach, the only time I went to beach this summer, poses the feeling of a film frame, for it somehow captures a moment that seems to have come from somewhere, or going somehwere, that we were heading toward the little island, knowing we won't reach there ever, that the two girls here were thinking of their own stories, past, or just that afternoon, hard to tell.

The detachment of the characters in this photo to the lens reveals nothing of the moment itself. It did not meant to tell this is Once, it meant to tell that there they were, but they were from somehwere and going some where, in their lives.

That is why this is definitely not one of the best photos of Hai, but it is the best photo that someone could take for friends. He was a friend hanging out with friends when taking this photo, but his unque style was still visible.

I was reading On Phtography by Susan Sontag. I much prefer the essay "America, Seen through photographys, Darkly", than the theoratical "In Plato's Cave".

"To photograph is to confer importance. No moment is more important than any other moment. No person is more interesting than any other person."

I like this observation about nature of good photopgrathy, to me. Every Once is equally meaningful when it is recorded by the lense. And detachment is important to me, unless it is documentary or journalistic photography.

So if you want to see a story, watch a movie, read a book. But to see a photo is really to see a passing moment of the world through the eyes of the photographer, it is how he sees the world as it is, from his angle. So we relive the many moments of otherwise unavailable or unseen by us.

I have been thinking of how photography as an art form can distinguish itself when digital technology make everyone a potential photo taker or moment capture. But the answer may be either very complicated, or very simple.

You know something is good when you see it.


Baomin said...

Good is an attribute defined by the opinion holder. Therefore, something touches you may not confer same importance to others. But good photographer is able to focus and sharpen his own understanding of importance and make it easier to be perceived by others.

vivianzhu said...

Baomin, you make what I want to say more clear and focused.