Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Say Cheese

Chances are, you've seen the amazing black-and-white photos of Sebastião Salgado. He had stunning photos in The Atlantic about three years ago, of shipbreaking in India, and he is arguably the most famous photographer in the world. A recent profile of him in The New Yorker illuminated his working method, and the depth of his concentration. I was particularly struck by this passage:

His intensity, when working, could inspire a kind of shame in one's own lack of stamina, and in one's willingness to read and gossip rather than at all times commune with the scenery. It was like visiting an art gallery with someone able to study a single portrait for a full afternoon. In contrast to Salgado, the rest of us took photographs that seemed to be a kind of defense against the unease that can creep into our response to the sublime -- a shield against the guilt attached to not knowing how to fix one's gaze on something spectacular that one will never see again.
--"A Cold Light," by Ian Parker, The New Yorker, April 18, 2005, p. 157.

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