exquisite incomprehension


One advantage photography has over some other media — in particular writing — is that with photography, one does not necessarily have to convey the sense that one understands what one is sharing with the viewer. A photographer (excluding those who are photographing scenes they have manufactured) is not an _author_, and is not assuming the kind of privileged position of understanding over the subject which the author is forced to carry — sometimes as a burden, sometimes as a badge of honor, sometimes as mating plumage.

Of course, I don’t mean to suggest that an understanding of the subject has no value in photography, but I do think good photography can be done which is founded not on an understanding of what is being photographed, but on an exquisite incomprehension of it. One can behold a thing with great intensity and convey some part of that intensity to the viewer without necessarily having to get a grip on the subject, or even to really decide for sure what it is.

The challenge is to do this without giving the sense of hiding behind obscurity or engaging in puzzle games with the viewer. This is difficult, particularly if one is interested in reaching a wide range of viewers…

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