Benefit of Time

chgo_001Ralph Eugene Meatyard had a practice of leaving his exposed film in a box on a shelf and waiting for months before developing them. This interval of time gave him some distance between the photographs and his emotional connection to the images. As a photo editor I have had the experience  of being shown a mediocre photograph and then having the artist spin a fantastic tale about how the image was made. Unfortunately the story did not improve the photograph.

Meatyard realized this and sought emotional separation from his images. With his “no focus” images it gave him time to forget who or what he was actually photographing. This way the forms had to stand on their own.  Contrary to what one would think his small black and white photographs are damp with emotion. If you are unfamiliar with the work of this brilliant photographer you can go here for short  introduction: Ralph Eugene Meatyard by James Rehm. For sample images you can go here: Stephen Dater Gallery

I spent last Sunday developing film in my friend’s darkroom and unbeknownst to me in the batch was a roll of film that I had exposed in Chicago over 9 months ago.  For a little while, before memories came flooding back, they were just images, not unlike those I would see in a book or an exhibition by an unfamiliar artist. I had no criteria, no sense of a series to put them in, no great story to tell. They were just pictures. At this point I was able to pick two which I liked solely for their content and composition. Here they are. They say something universal. It’s not about me, it’s all about the picture.

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