Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kodak Picture Spot

Jenny follows the rules
Thinking ahead to next summer's European adventure, a grand tour we've been planning for years, I anticipate the kinds of photos we'll take. Yes, there will be towers, both Eiffel and Leaning (helpfully held up by our own hands, thanks to the trickery of forced perspective). You bet there will be Roman ruins and English pubs. Oh, and castles in Scotland? We'll see one or two.

Part of the fun for any trip is taking pictures. Part of the obligation, too. Susan Sontag once compared the ritual of tourist photography to the Puritan Work Ethic, in which leisure becomes an extension of labor. We "shoot" to capture, to fix, to consume, of course. Sometimes we shoot to mock, to violate, to hurt, too. But mostly we take pictures to make sure that we've "gotten it right." It's our duty to get that shot of Chartres, that frame of the Parthenon, that composition of Stonehenge. Photography is proof of life. One needn't trip into psychoanalysis to understand that, for me, snapping the shutter is an obsession (nearly so, at least).

So I look forward to a journey arranged so that we can look back on the trip. I know it's silly and skewed to think that way. As much as possible I'll try to be present in this place I've yearned to visit since the late eighties, when we lived in Europe but hardly saw any of it. I'll try to look through my own eyes more than through the camera lens. There are conversations to be had and paths to be explored. There's a continent of experience that cannot be sussed out through even the most clever Photoshop simulacra. I want to see it all - for real.

And what if the camera were to break, or get lost or stolen? Wouldn't Europe still be worth visiting?


Jenny Wood said...

So very true. Can't wait to see Europe with you!

Andrew Wood said...

Yep. I could do Europe without a camera. But I couldn't enjoy it without YOU!

Anonymous said...

Hey Andy, it's been a while since I checked your blog (this is David from Salzburg). I felt compelled to comment on this post. A good friend of mine who is a professional photography tells the story of his great uncle. The uncle had returned from a trip to Hawaii. My friend asked him how it was and he replied that he couldn't say because he hadn't gotten the pictures developed yet.

Andrew Wood said...

Hey, David! Nice to hear from you. Love the story - so true. Reminds me of an old interpretation of VCR: "Video Centered Reality." Thanks for dropping by!