In November of 1935 Walker Evans made a photograph about Bethlehem titled “A Graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania”. A large cement cross sits in the foreground overlooking a perfectly composed scene of American life and industry. A cemetery competes with brick homes and porches that are knitted together in a plateau, fluctuating between past and present. Just when your eye comprehends the few inches of greenery, you look up only to see a changing landscape of hard factory life. Like any brilliant photograph, it speaks in a dichotomy of quiet and busy; charging rapidly towards the future yet relentlessly becoming a prophecy of the uncertain. The Bethlehem Steel Company at times swelled to about 300,000 jobs nationally and about 30,000 at the Bethlehem location, about half the population of the city. The mill closed and parts of it have been turned into a casino and boutiques I have been thinking about this photograph for a very long time and visited the exact location and town several times. It’s always a unique and precious experience; understanding history, understanding America, or at least try to.
I admit, I have not been very active with my Blog and although the other members at OramaPhotos have not directly or otherwise brought my blog inactivity to attention, I thought it would be appropriate to start the New Year with regular posts; or at least try to. There are many things relating to photography, personal and otherwise, that I would like to express. I love to write but I am not a writer; I love to make pictures but I do not consider myself an artist, nor do I care for the title or the subterranean meanings that go in accord with the title. I did not pick up a camera when I was eight-years-old. In fact, I think I was twenty-two and my first experience with a camera was when I moved to the United States and enrolled in college. Until that point, I was not really exposed to photography or the arts.
Considering Photographic "art", under the genre of photojournalism, documentary, street photography and the like, it is the ability to make a powerful image the moment light hits your sensor or silver halides, depending on your aesthetic preferences. It's a result of your intuition, your astute attention to your environs, your dedication and ethics, that is if you have any. That’s Photographic Art. And if you are wandering the streets of that visually affluent and exotic place, with the need of removing elements to create an inspirational image, maybe you should consider your work process. Your focal length, your position and framing, although a choice, are not an accurate representation of what your eyes witnessed, we know that, but it's not necessarily manipulation. Yes, we also know that photography is not the "truth". But that moment it's something you witnessed and experienced, it intrigued you for social or cultural reasons, and that moment is accurate, it's yours, but simultaneously theirs too. Without them you are nothing, eliminating them is disrespectful, he was happy you took his picture. Additionally, you are also missing out on the fun of picture hunting. The strive in searching and capturing that powerful moment when everything is harmonious. Some times that moment comes, other times it doesn't, and it's fine, just move on.
In a world beyond the frenetic tempo of the metropolis, where technology has succumbed us by gluing our gaze on a retina display or smartphone, swapping franticly beyond human comprehension though social media, blog and news sites, we have become detached. The omission of not using our commodities on a regular basis (including doing 70mph on the interstate) and the idea of leaving our front door without our favorite gadget terrifies us; talking from experience. In the celebratory and socially diverse rhythm of the fair, technology becomes passive, diffused, and at times non-existent. Outside the gates of this festivious enclave, technology advances rapidly in order to improve our lives and our consumer habits. What I am witnessing this summer while working on my ongoing project about fairs in Pennsylvania is a trend and fashion of another dimension, of an innocent past, and a popular tool among the elderly nationaly and abroad. It's the fly swatter, it’s back.