I read a lot of books related to photography. Nowadays they’re more about creativity than they are about technique. At some point these books always get around to two points: You should know why you are taking a particular photograph; and you should know what you’re feeling (the logic being that if you don’t know what you’re feeling how can you convey that to others in your photographs).
I generally know why I’m taking the photograph: I liked the subject; I liked the light; I liked the patterns; I liked the textures etc. But I struggle with the second point. I don’t generally know what I’m feeling. Maybe it’s because I’m British. Brits of my generation were not allowed to have feelings.
I am presently reading “Modern Instances. The Craft of Photography. A Memoir. by Stephen Shore.” In this he tells a story about famed photographer, Lee Friedlander.
…Lee Friedlander showed slides of his American Monument series in the Great Hall at Cooper Union. It was the first time he showed this work. He didn’t talk about his pictures and one could tell that the audience, largely students who are used to analyzing their work in class every week, were getting restless. Finally, someone raised their hand and asked, “What were you feeling when you took this picture?”. Friedlander replied, “As I recall, I was hungry”.
I love it.
Above: Lee Friedlander, Route 9W, New York State, 1969.