Content Basis for TEDXABQ
Between the Lines
TO SQUINT HAS ITS USES, especially in diverse disconnects of the searing head lights of ongoing wars; famines and floods; scorching fires; wily pandemics and performative shenanigans on the global political scene. How to make true connections with the world – and with ourselves – is a challenge? Maybe a little squint helps.
In photographic parlance, squinting is akin to an SLR camera lens with its F-ratio stopped down to achieve maximum depth-of-field. With greater clarity near-and-far, one gains optical intimacy in world view. Seeing clearly between the storylines of life, one may glimpse a scene which is truly beautiful. Could be a striated crepuscule out a plane window – despite the trepidations of today’s travel – missing connections.
Squinting at patches of my photographic past, I am grateful for the world-wind of my professional and personal travels. By the time I was thirty, I’d been on photo assignments in over thirty countries. In these locations, I’d witnessed horror, sorrow – and abundant beauty. Since then, I’ve ceased counting the diverse cultures and destinations stamped in my passport.
As the first woman staffer on the Boston Globe, I early learned to make connections through a principle of photojournalism. When entering a photo encounter, take the overall, or establishing shot: Know where you are. Then move in for the medium shots that engage you with the unfolding story. Then move in even closer – perhaps with a wide-angle lens that will suck your sight into optical intimacy. Don’t stand back. Wide angle optics pulls your gut in closer and makes you more vulnerable to the reality on the ground – allowing for true connections. Tele-lenses keep you removed: subject becomes object, like a gun shot in misguided disconnected emotional hands.
The question becomes: What can we learn about ourselves through the practice of truly connected photography – whether with a high-end SLR or the slickest smart phone? Is a photograph – any photo – really a self-portrait? The master photographers throughout the history of lens-based image making thought so. But we may have to squint to view a felt-sense of connection. I squint between the lines until the aperture of mind’s eye opens wide.
I move in closer for wide-angle shallow depth-of-field images: For optical intimacy so I can view the world as a connected visual artist – open to vulnerability.
Keep on seeing beauty – up close and personal. Don’t let fear control your distance from beauty – even if you have to squint. Even enlightenment is an optical experience: Viewing things as they really are – honesty connected. Renown war photojournalist Robert Capa affirmed: “If your pictures aren’t strong enough, you’re not close enough.” Optical connections and intimacy are the key.