Sunday, May 18, 2008

Straight from the Soul

“Photography records the gamut of feeling written to the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.”-Edward Steichen

Photography is one of the few major art forms that I have not yet discussed. Yet, when I think about it, it must be one of the most popular. Digital cameras are becoming more and more popular, and disposable cameras are very easily accessible. These days, you can even take and send pictures on a cell phone. Therefore, almost anyone can take pictures, regardless of their skill level and whether or not they consider themselves artists. After all, everyone wants to capture their favorite memories. And I am not just talking about tourists walking around with huge camera bags and fanny packs. In fact, I have some friends who like to take pictures everywhere they go, whether it be a sporting event or just a dinner.

Despite the popularity of photography, in some cultures, people believe that the camera is a tool used to steal the soul. To be quite honest, I also don’t like to be in photos. I can’t exactly explain why, and maybe it’s just a bit of self-consciousness. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t think a picture will capture my soul. I do, however, believe a photograph can be a visual representation of one’s soul. As I see it, a picture can reveal a great deal about an individual’s personality and emotions. To be in no pictures at all would actually be very sad, almost like being completely forgotten. I cannot imagine losing my collection of photos, which hold priceless memories of the places I have been and the people I have known.

The photography collection of Norman and Caroline Kinder Carr, which is now on display at the Corcoran fully embodies this idea that a photograph can display one’s soul and personality. The Carrs are Washington, DC, residents who have built a remarkable collection including photographs by Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Lewis Hine, and Paul Strand. This comprehensive collection is both a history of and a tribute to the genre known as street photography. The pictures successfully capture the essence of city streets and the people who walk them. A sense of vitality and impulsiveness emerges from each piece. Every photograph on display depicts a captivating scene which compels the viewer to look longer and closer in order to avoid missing a crucial element. Even the individuals in the pictures are intriguing characters that the viewer longs to know more about.

For the most part, the pictures in the Corcoran are successful in depicting city life. They encapsulate the dynamism, passion, and irregularity that essentially are the soul of the city street. In this way, the exhibit achieves its goal by summarizing the history of street photography and emphasizing the remarkable ability of this art to evoke emotion, hold memories, and portray spirit and character.

1 comment:

Apophis Creed said...

What's the name of the photographer that shot the two gentlemen against the wall?