Photography has become ubiquitous in the digital age, giving everyone the tool for
documenting everything from the moment one wakes up. Every look is captured,
every event saved, every thought recorded. Although this power to record and disseminate
expands the empowerment of each individual to affect history, the longevity of
this visual narrative has yet to be determined.
Michael A. Smith, Chicago, 2008, 8 x 20 inches, gelatin silver chloride contact print.
Courtesy of the artist
As a medium for affecting a global audience, photography as an art form and
journalistic tool indeed presents us with the groundwork for discussing the actual
longevity of this exploding movement. In doing so, consider what elevates a
photograph and touches the aesthetic of the public psyche.
The renowned photographer Robert Adams talked about the three truths of landscape
photography. According to Adams, “Landscape pictures can offer us, I think,
three verities – geography, autobiography, and metaphor. Geography is, if taken
alone, sometimes boring, autobiography is frequently trivial, and metaphor can
be dubious. But taken together, as in the best work of people like Alfred
Stieglitz and Edward Weston, the three kinds of information strengthen each
other and reinforce what we all work to keep intact – an affection for life.”
|Paula Chamlee, Jökulsárlón, Iceland, 2004, 8 x 10 inches, Gelatin Silver
Chloride Contact Print. Courtesy of the artist
The photographs of Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee currently on exhibition at The Art School
of the Boca Raton Museum of Art exemplify these “truths” and give us, the
public, an opportunity to determine how one can achieve a lasting visual
comment. They have spent their lives finding those images, those moments, those
interpretations of their visions. Much of their work is landscape in nature
with a unique interpretation of the subject, motive and truth of the lens.
Considering the impact of the medium today in our
everyday lives, from Facebook posts to digital scrapbooks, the individual
interested in expanding their skill to document a personal history that will
exist beyond the visual byte would be well served to consider these three
truths (geography, autobiography and metaphor) when they click the shutter and
send the image out into the universe.