PHOTOGRAPHY, AS AN ART, is part craft and part instinct. The craft, those purely technical rudiments for capturing an image within a camera, can be taught, most of them in a fairly short span of time. That’s the how of photography. The trickier part, by far, is the why of it, that intricate web of motives, guesses and dreams that can prove the work of a lifetime. Amazing advances in technology have greatly enriched the experience of creating images, since cameras are so reliable and easy to operate. That’s a remarkable luxury, since the photographer can now concentrate less on whether a picture will be generated and more on what kind of picture it should be.
The design of many devices seems to center on taking troublesome decisions out of the hands of photographers, in the interest of producing more images with fewer faults. Instead of making the individual a better photographer, the emphasis is placed on making the camera good enough to save us from ourselves, to make the process foolproof. We always go home with a picture. Ironically, however, it is only in prying our fingers off the auto settings and factory defaults that we steer the process back toward direct touch, experience and vision. Taking a term from prime or so-called “normal” lenses, which visualize most like the human eye, I call this “normalizing”, a process by which our eyes reboot their settings, re-connecting us to the shooters we once were. Putting the tools of this magnificent age at the service of our instincts (rather than the opposite), we make the journey back from merely taking pictures to making images.
To that end, THE NORMAL EYE is not merely a clinical workshop, as there are legions of pro’s covering the merely technical aspects of the medium, many of them far better at it than I. It strives, instead, to be a passionate discussion amongst “perpetual amateurs” taking their art back into their own hands, opting for adventure, randomness, even failure in search of the miraculous. This platform is a celebration of photography as a deliberate and ongoing act of art, perhaps the most democratic arena for artistry the world has ever known. It is a chronicle of our lifelong efforts to learn, re-learn, and even re-re-learn just how, and what, to see.
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Welcome to this exchange. You are its most vital part.