No Image Stands Alone

Multiple Exposures Gallery's newly-minted president, Fred Zafran, explains the meaning behind a message.

Some time back, as I was traveling the unmarked road that is photography’s exquisitely winding journey, I came across a cryptic sign.  It read:

“No image stands alone.”


At first uncertain, the meaning (and wisdom) of the message gradually became clear.

(c) Fred Zafran

(c) Fred Zafran

As our technique and craft evolve along with the opening of artistic sensibility, we find on occasion that our captured images seem, well… expressive, and perhaps even compelling.  Maybe others seeing our work have said so too.  Now energized, we are driven to create more compelling images, to be open and receptive to finding more.But… as the desire (the need?) arises to communicate an inner intent and deeper narrative through our work, we find that this is no longer possible with a single image (or a series of disconnected images).  So, it is within the context of the photographic essay (or project) that this communication becomes possible, and an imperative.

(c) Fred Zafran

(c) Fred Zafran

Charles Harbutt (Magnum photographer) offers a definition of a photographic essay as a  “multi-level picture story that flows primarily from an awareness of the symbolic possibilities of the subject matter.”  He notes that this awareness may come either during the shooting or afterwards… but that there is “more vitality” when it comes later (!)Working principally as an “urban documentary (street) photographer,” my approach to image making is to head out on the street with camera in hand, and to remain open to the unforeseen.  I have been working on a major project for about 9 months now (I’ll save this for a later Blog post).  But what is of interest, is that during the course of this longer-term project, other small narratives not previously conceived, began making themselves known to me.Koji Onaka, an accomplished Japanese street photographer (and student of Daido Moriyama) summarizes well this curious process of discovery:   “There’s not a clear concept before taking my pictures. Photography is procedural and I take photographs of what attracts me, and then later this manifests itself as interests. The subconscious is at play, the work acts as a reminder of what I’m interested in – it’s what caught my eye. There’s not something in particular that is my subject. It becomes a process of self-discovery.”

(c) Fred Zafran

(c) Fred Zafran

I will share a recent photographic narrative that appeared as subcontext of my ongoing work, and is becoming a project in itself.  The new project depicts the photographer’s “presence” both conceptually and literally as observer and author of the captured scene – a key compositional and psychological element.  Although still in the early stages of discovery and development (… and uncertain of emerging direction), I have risked sharing a few images in this Blog post.  Maybe this is an examination of the “quantum entanglement” of photographer and the world observed (?)

More to follow…