I can’t quite believe that it’s 2022 – the year in which I will be officially of a ‘certain age’. Definitely NOT old, not yet.
I also want to express my thanks to everyone who has supported this blog in the past year or so. Your comments, on here, and on Facebook have given me the enthusiasm to keep writing. Thank you.
The last few days have been those odd ones that happen between Christmas and New Year – you know, the time, when you actually have had no idea what day of the week it is. We’re still eating ‘Christmas’ food, and my other half is busy making the last mince pies of the season. The days are dark – and short, and for about a week, there has been virtually no sunshine, just looming clouds of grey.
Suddenly over the last week, the sun came out a bit, the sky (today) is blue and life seems somewhat ‘brighter’ again. (it’s bitter cold out today but lovely).
Over the dull days, I’ve been reading photography books. Something every aspiring photographer should do. Not just pretty picture ones either (though there’s everything good to be said about those).
Towards the end of last year, I watched a few talks on YouTube, one of which talked about a photographer I’d never heard of – an American, Harry Callahan. The talk itself cost me a fair amount of money, (not the talk), as I searched online for a book about him and his images, creatively called ‘Harry Callahan’. I managed to get hold of a second hand copy, which, when it arrived looked like it had never been opened.
Callahan had his first one person exhibition in November 1947 in Chicago. He asserted that ‘creativity can only be measured by the value of an individual’s whole photographic life from beginning to end’. He did not set out to create photographic masterpieces, nor did he think his later works were better than the earlier ones. He decided, almost from the start, that his photographs would be a record of his life, so each image was just a piece in his growth as an image maker. His ‘body of work’ was a continuous piece of his life. Callahan wanted to make images that would grow and change with him, and also preserve photographic integrity and unity.
Interestingly, when Callahan joined a camera club (The Chrysler Camera Club), he said that he learned from the members that photography was important and ‘very serious’. He was only a member for three years, and his membership defined exactly what he did NOT want to do with his photography. Later, in his membership of the Detroit photo guild, he found members made highly manipulated, and ‘pretty’ pictures, but discussed work ideas that had been popular over 40 years earlier.
This was in complete contrast to his ideas, which were innovative and carefree. He went on to say that camera club photography was laboured, analytical and rule bound. In their quest to create important work they had lost the amateurs eye and joy of discovery. Callahan thought the guild was ‘silly’ – and created nothing more than an enormous ‘block’ to his work.
He went on to say that with more experience, you can photograph more freely, and you will go back and forth with your experimentation – and you will repeat the same things, only better.
Harry Callahan 1912 – 1994
“I think…… I want to express my life, and that’s also true in my old age. All your whole life is different. So far I still look forward to going out and photographing” (Callahan 1994)
Find some of Callahan’s images by clicking the link below