My birthday yesterday, double nickel. Many thoughts and reflections. Wandering through last year’s photos-I-haven’t-processed-yet again, I spied this view of the morning fog and thought it interesting in its layeredness … fog and tree trunks to thin branches and plane tree seed pods, separated by space and fog, held together in a whirl.


The party was good. People from two-three different circles I interact with brought together to share a meal, celebrate a moment. They tell stories, visit, socialize. Pizza, beer, salad and lots of laughter: best meal going. 

I was listening to an interview with a photographer who specializes in commercial automotive and motorcycle photos. He spoke of how things are different now from fifteen years ago … spoke wistfully of when “the shot” was what mattered, where now he shoots in parts and pieces to be composited together to build the image for his clients. The tone and thought was of something lost, some essence no longer viable: the gestalt of “the shot” and all the time, the effort, in detailed setup to make it. 

This got me thinking: Is this not the big divide in photography? between those seeking to capture a moment — record it, hold and treasure it, a memory, a unique and never reproducible instant in time — vs those seeking to create a moment, create a scene that portrays something either literally or symbolically? I remember seeing at an exhibit how someone proudly proclaimed in their literature, “No Photoshop … These are actual photographs.”

Is the creation of a photograph, an image, from pieces and parts still photography, or is it illustration? Is there some essence lost in this paradigm shift, brought on by tools that make it far easier to accomplish than ever before, or is there something added to the world of expression by it? 

I tend to follow the school of “capturing a precious instant in time” and don’t do much of this compositing of pieces, parts into images myself. But I find some of that work compelling and fascinating. Pieces and parts making a whole … is the whole reflective of reality? does it have to be? 

The party wound down and people departed the restaurant. Different people, all special, all unique and multi-layered in their complexity. Together one thing, apart …  pieces, parts of a whole. More or less? No judgement possible. 

I look into this photo and see layers, levels and interactions. The simple and the complex. 

All together, and each apart.