Against photography

Every time I come home with pictures made en route, I get irritated not only by the quality (not sharp) but also by the fact that, while taking pictures, I forgot to look. So I am done with camera’s. I want to have enough time to observe and not loose time looking for my camera, trying to get the right frame and ending up missing the clue. If I can’t remember without a picture in my album, the object or moment was obviously not worth it. I have piles of books filled with pictures, from weddings to adventure trips in Africa, and I never look at them. My only interesting photo album is the one where you can see me as a baby, a toddler and then as a very young boy. I cannot remember those years, so here is a nice way to prove that I have indeed been a baby. But me in Florence, or a church in Orleans? Who cares? Worse even are the us-two-in-Rome, shot by a friendly fellow tourist. On most pictures ‘we’ look embarassed anyway. Not because we aren’t happy to be there, but because we are aware that we don’t need the picture to remember. The emotions are enough. I admit that real photography, pictures with a concept or as a result of some magic eye, can be great. Not as a souvenir, but as a piece of art which you would want to frame and hang on the wall. But those pictures are rare, maybe 0,1% of all pictures made if you ask me.
Talking about the relation between observing, time and pictures: when visiting a museum, one should take time for just one or two paintings. Looking at a Rembrandt after having studied the theme, the players in the scene, the context and the mood of the artist is quite a different thing than stroling by. It takes time for a painting to connect to your mind; it takes time to understand the different layers, the intentions of the painter, the message he wants to convey. I, for one, am the kind of museum runner. I don’t like big crowds, I speed through the rooms and am actually happiest in the museum bookshop. But I have decided just now to take more time. Time gained by not making pictures I will invest in time to really look.

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