Just one photograph

January 27, 2011 § Leave a comment


It snowed again. It has snowed forever, which makes it hard to get out and photograph. I was pacing around the house last night, trying to find something to take a picture of. I felt like taking hundreds of exposures!  And that, of course, is what we do with digital cameras . . . it’s no problem to take hundreds and hundreds of pictures because it doesn’t cost anything. But I began to think about photographers in the past, when–especially in tough economic times–film had to be rationed carefully.

I especially remember an article about the great French photojournalist Edouard Boubat that I read long ago. In it, he talked about how he had to be very careful with how much film he used, even on magazine assignments. I no longer have that article, but I did go on the Web and found a Frank Horvat interview with Boubat, in which he talks about pretty much the same thing. “There is a little dilemma that we all face, because we now use those 35mm cameras . . . . Our own drama, with these little 35mm cameras, is that we shoot too much. If we truly were strong, we would only make three or four exposures.”

Of course we have moved “forward” even from the 35mm film days he was talking about, and now we can shoot seemingly endless photos. But thinking about how many of the great photographers of the past were constrained to work with just one roll or a few sheets of film made me slow down, take many fewer photographs than usual, and concentrate on making at least one exposure that I really liked. After I made this image, I put the camera away for the night. I hope you enjoy it too.


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