Phantoms in the Photographs

As I was building my albums in my new photo gallery, I noticed that very, very few of my photographs have people in them. And if people are present, they’re distant, anonymous, face hidden from the camera.

I didn’t, consciously set out to stage photographs in such a way that no human is in them. However, I have found myself, time and again, holding on a shot until a person is no longer in the frame, even if the person could add to the picture. For instance, when taking a group of rocks in the desert, putting a person into the scene adds depth and perspective. Still, I hold on the shot until it is people free.

My people-less photography has nothing to do with photographic preference, as I love ‘people’ photographs. When I lived in San Francisco, the frame and art gallery across the street from my condo used to feature wonderful B&W; male nudes, usually showing one man against a natural background, such as amidst rocks at the ocean. And there was a set of photographs from years ago of naked women who were painted so that it looked like they were wearing clothes. My memory is fragmented, but I believe the photos were for Vogue. I think these were fascinating, and beautifully staged and colored.

I have, also, long admired those who can capture the essence of a person, or of the human experience, in just one photo, be it a portrait or a scene. It’s an extraordinary gift.

However, the more I work with my photography, the more I’m finding that, for me, the photograph isn’t the end in itself. Each picture is nothing more than a stage, a backdrop for a story waiting for the actors.

Either that or I see my world populated only by phantoms.

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