Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Of the numerous blogs I check out daily, somewhere between 15 and 20 of them poetry related, another 10 strictly political in content, my favorite of late is Guillermo Parra's Venepoetics. Specifically, I'm enthralled by his postings entitled "Biograph", a series of candid shots of G and what I can only assume to be family, friends or both. I have no idea who the people in these pictures are, nor how they relate to G's life, nor does it concern me or create anxiety that I can't find out through captions or any related postings any answers.

The old point and shoot camera, or the now ancient instamatic film where one peeled back the layers of chemicals to find, hopefully, that one had gotten decent enough light to capture a candid or contrived moment, retain a strange power. Guillermo's photos (some of them are of him, so he may or may not have held the camera at times), retain a warmth that digital photography has yet to capture, at least to my sensibilities. Some of the shots show us people in obvious enjoyment of the moment, while others harbor a strange fading copper tone that will probably become eerier still with time. Knowing G's approximate age, I'm aware that some of the pictures can't be more than ten years old, or perhaps less, but they still look ancient to me. Or maybe it's some of the fashions. The same sort of hippie look, as one example, that was pervasive in the 70s when I was still in junior high that datesome of them for me. Or the older men in their ties, long-sleeve white shirts and suit pants, no matter what the weather or occasion. (My grandfather, who worked as a house painter most of his life, would wear a suit on his way to work each day just to look proper on the bus from Arlington into the city, changing into his painter's clothes once he arrived at the site).

One of my favorites is in his February archives, where two people are getting out of or into a VW bus in the rain. A man is holding an umbrella over an older woman's head and she is saying something to the person holding the camera. In the next shot, probably seconds later, the man and the woman are laughing, probably at something the photographer said. Why am I so interested in this and why does it please me so? Do I just want to know what made them laugh, or is it that the photographer, correctly I think, considered this a fine subject for a picture?

There are a number of other pictures that draw me in, but go see for yourself, especially if you like to have your voyeuristic tendencies satisfied as much as I do by such content.

Maybe at some point I'll no longer see an old Polaroid as superior to that a digital photograph. Some digital photography may already be warmer than I know, and it's certainly more convenient. I'm not a photographer, so I can't begin to say what limts may or may be there for digital. I no longer feel the same way about vinyl records, preferring instead the convenience of CDs and internet downloading, a conclusion I came to at about the time I realized I was never going to find a needle for a dinosaur of a player that really wasn't worth the time or effort. But for now, Guillermo's pictures, which are barely connected to my life at all, feel like the real thing. More than likely, the fascination I have with these candid moments has nothing to do with the kind of film, but with the subjects only.

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