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In my view you cannot claim to have seen something...

In my view you cannot claim to have seen something until you have photographed it.  Emile Zola

I have always had a lot of trouble with this quotation regarding it as an arrogant claim for the superiority of the image over the actual.

I've been thinking a lot about "seeing" as I try to write the afterword for a friend's book of photographs. I have come to believe that Zola is not so far off. It is not the result of photographing that is important (well, it is important too) but that the most important bit is the seeing that takes place before you point the camera -- click the shutter -- make the print.

You stand there, camera in hand or on tripod, saying "I find what is before me to be (beautiful, ugly, significant, funny, ...) and if I succeed then my print will show you what I saw and felt about it." I suspect that it is much the same if you are standing there in front of an easel or holding a sketch pad.

However, no matter how much the viewer receives from your work it is you who has gained the most -- you have seen it and those who walk or drive by every day without more than a glance have not.


I have never been one to experiment with "alternative processes". It's not that I don't like the look of them but rather that most of what I do in the darkroom is well presented in silver prints on neutral toned paper.. My one venture into albumen printing, while the results were much to my liking, generated a tapestry of bad language that is likely still hovering over the wet bench in my then-darkroom.

That said, I have become fascinated with the look of Van Dyke Brown prints for some of my prints -- especially portraits. In Photoshop a couple of clicks of the mouse and my neutral toned print become Van Dyke Brown (CMYK 0% 22% 35% 63%). I hasten to assure you that I am not about to email the good folks at Bostick and Sullivan to order up the chemistry for Van Dyke Brown. If I uses a large format camera perhaps but that's another rabbit hole into which I shall not descend. But I sure like the effect it has on this portrait of my friend Marissa.


I'm continuing to work on my loosely defined project of things that are still there. This week I photographed two former beach cottages on Alki Point that are nestled between mid-rise apartment blocks. I haven't printed it yet but stay tuned for next month.

This one is of Mediterranean/Greek hole-in-the-wall restaurant right off of the main drag in Burien.

They must be doing pretty well since they recently expanded into the space next door (they now have four tables instead of two..


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