Tuesday, November 09, 2004

39 days: homophobicphobic?

Does that make me as bad as them? Twice as intolerant? *sigh*


Ladislav Bielik, taken in Bratislava, Slovakia on the 21st of August 1968.

The published picture was cropped to show the man's face upclose.
Fast forward to 1989, Tiananmen Square. Think the second photo should be quite commonplace now, but somehow this photo remained rather elusive. Same pose, same intention. It's surreal. I am honoured to have found the uncut version here. To me, this photo is so much more powerful than the cropped version.

Margaret Bourke-White, German Citizens forced to march through
henwald to face their nation's crimes, 1945.

here is a reason for posting the pictures. Because, I came across the first one attributed for the first time, and though a war shot is cliche, this one is cold, brutal, uncensored and pure because its meaning does not lie in its composition, but its content. The second one's effect is lost here, because what u need to see is the expression on the face of the corspe in the middle of the pile, staring straight at u as it did at me when I saw it as a full-page picture, the way it can single you out at once and hold your gaze. This site might make it clearer.

All of a sudden, it occured to me today t
he real reason why I took an interest in photography. Journalism has all but lost its charm for me, through a multitude of reasons, beginning first of all when I was with The Straits Times. And as you study news, and get more critical of its content, its potential for manipulation becomes almost impossible to ignore or justify.

hotography is but an alternate channel in which I have found it possible to channel the same passion, albeit in a what I think is a less crude, more refined form.

Sure, I am aware of t
he manipulations occuring behind the lense. But unlike journalism, where sometimes (most of the time actually) integrity is not enough, photos offer me a channel that promises me the possibility of purity.

Editors cannot tell you how to frame your shots. That, to me, is by far the most compelling reason. After that, it's all up to the person holding the camera. I need that control.

hotography is still untainted for me. I have not once had to question my work and my motivations. This perception will likely change overtime, like how journalism changed for me. It is also equally likely that journalism will portray itself in a more redeeming light in the future which will restore for me the lustre lost in the chaos of the newsroom I have experienced so far. Somehow, I do not think that working at a wire, an alternate explanation I have entertained, would have had very different results, but I could be wrong.


In a bid to resume the kind of utopic life I had envisioned after the exams, I flew through Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera. It took me awhile to warm up to the book I was supposed to have finished reading about a year ago, but I am glad I stuck with it past the first quarter, because this is one of the finest literary pieces I have ever read.

I say t
hat without the ability to offer a concise practical criticism of the techniques employed, except the assurance that this is one of the rare books with the ability to make you REALLY forget where you are. It is akin to watching a movie, if you get what I mean. And it is not because of the description, but more of the simple honesty that has been channelled into te author's attempt to tell a story. I cannot remember the last time I was so effortlessly lost in prose.

hank you Neil Murphy for forcing me to buy a book I would never have purchased for myself for the simple reason that it contained that four-letter-word in its title.


mangomaiden said...

Regarding photography, I suppose the Tarot answered your question... haha

Anonymous said...


I wish u all the best in Bangladesh! I believe you know what you are doing, and hopefully this is what you really want. Whatever it is, shoot loads of pix!

Editors can't tell you how to frame a shot? My dear girl, they can and they oftn do. I guess the newsroom is a sucky atmosphere, the photo desk (in ST at least) is much nicer, but believe me, the control that you so badly crave for is non existent as well. And very often, you find that the conditions for news photography (i hesitate to use the term photojournalism) will go against the very reason why you chose photography in the first place. Cognitive dissonance would be an apt term to use.

I am glad you see photography as purer than news. It may or may not be, and i guess it boils down to approach. I believe that as long as an artist have control, there can never be absolute purity, but seriously,is there a need for any? The camera lies all the time, precisely because it is a human with control and emotions who operates it.


Anonymous said...

I'm differentiating between internal and external forms of control... will not be deluding myself to assume purity is able to exist in any form anyhow