Musings on Photography


Posted in process by Paul Butzi on May 3, 2010


I’m constantly amazed at how much connection I see between seemingly unrelated fields of artistic enterprise, in this case poetry and photography…

‘Why do you want to write poetry?’ If the young man answers ‘I have important things to say’, then he is not a poet. If he answers ‘I like hanging around words, listening to what they have to say’, then maybe he is going to be a poet.

-W. H. Auden

Or, if I might translate this across into the world of photography, there’s a certain kind of photography you get when you pick up the camera with an agenda, and a different sort of photography you get when you pick up the camera because you’re curious.

I’ve often said that when I’m making photographs, I’m trying to figure things out, not convey some idea. I’m not coming to the camera with answers, I’m coming to the camera with questions. From my point of view, this is really good news, because in the final analysis I have a towering mountain of questions and an almost non-existent little ant-heap of answers. If I had to rely on answers to make photographs, I’d make one or two, and then I’d be done.

5 Responses

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  1. pj said, on May 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Interesting post, and well said. Oftentimes just wandering with a camera and no preconceived notions, just letting what wants to come in through the lens come in, can be very rewarding.

  2. Chris Klug said, on May 4, 2010 at 3:41 am

    This post reminds me of that quote from Winogrand which I’ll probably mis-quote, but “I photograph things to see how they look photographed.” While that may not be your question, that’s what popped into my head when I read your post.

  3. Bron said, on May 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Interesting thoughts.

  4. pgpgsxr said, on May 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Paul have you read a book by the name of “Poem Crazy” by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge? It´s a great example of how and poetry and photography can find inspiration from the same source

  5. steviecat said, on June 25, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I couldn’t agree more with you Paul. I have recently taken up photography and don’t have much of a background in it. I like to just take my camera, drive around and go with the flow. I rarely have any agenda to fulfill, if I find something worthy of a photograph then I snap it. Just getting out and taking pictures will only help you grow as a photographer. Keep up the good insight!

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