Occam’s Razor

Bill Jay, a very important writer and historian of photography as well as a photographer in his own right passed away last week in his sleep. Among the many books he wrote, Occam’s Razor was by far my favorite and one that any photographer young or old should read. Many of his writings are directed at young photograhers just starting out, appealing to them to find and follow their own path and not get caught up in all of the art  marketing and academic overkill that has been the trend in photography for the past twenty years. Come to think of it that is longer than I have been a photographer. How long does a trend last?

In one of my favorite essays in Occam’s Razor. Mr. Jay asks young photographers to list what they are passionate about and from that list cut out anything that is not visual and then from that shortened list cut out anything that is impossible for you to do for whatever reason (access, practicality, whatever), so on and so on until you are down to one or two items. The last culling is a consideration of the audience; which ideas would be more appealing to the photographic audience you are trying to reach. At the end you will have an idea of what you should be photographing!

I did this exercise in my head while riding the train into New York. What I came up with jived with my academic background (BA in Psychology and half of an MA in Anthropology). I am interested in perception and a lot of my photography has to do with perception; hence the name for this blog “Force of Seeing”. I am also interested in people. I am an avid people watcher but above all I am interested in Physics and the nature of reality.  The ideas of psychology and physics sort of meld in my image making.

The triptych below is part of my current efforts. There are 3 images in panorama fashion, but each panel is of a different time. They are different time canvases (interesting phrase, I may have to utilize it as a title!). I like the way the pigeons form a chaotic Bell Curve. 

By the way, William of Occam was a Franciscan Monk who had some heretical ideas which led to some trouble for him. He believed that reality exists solely in individual things (one of the guiding principles of my life). He also came up with a principle dubbed Occam’s Razor. Of any two explanations for a phenomenon the explanation that is less complex is to be preferred. In other words keep it simple!



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