Digital and Analog Storytelling

The entire history of human expression, slightly abridged

Three chords and the truth


It’s easy, I think, to allow technology to mediate your imagination right out of a picture.

In class, some people really loved the last section on design, and some people really struggled. A lot seemed to have to do with the process of actually making the images with Gimp and Photoshop. People who got the hang of it quickly–or who had taken high school classes on it previously–were fine, and seemed to enjoy and learn a lot from the lessons on minimalism and on face-swapping and the rest of it.

But it seemed–or felt like–technology was getting in the way of storytelling.

So I decided that there was no way that was going to happen this time. I was going to re-read my camera manual front to back, make sure I knew how to set ISO, aperture, focus point, all of it at a moment’s notice. I had even carved out one evening during the week to stay up late and do it all in one go.

And then I did the exact opposite.

Instead of making sure that I had every technical alteration and detail on speed dial, I tried to figure out what I liked about photography, anyway. I went back to my favorites, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus and just looked at them. I’ve been thinking a lot about Cindy Sherman since we listened to the piece on her during the audio section of the class. What was it that I liked about those photographs? How could I get more of what I liked into my photographs?

I also re-watched a lecture by the photographer David Brommer, which is great, highly recommended, today’s lesson is partly based on his lecture, but at one point he hints that men don’t photograph themselves very much, that women do and, it seems to me, that there is an implication that putting yourself in the picture is somehow a feminine trait, which, what does he mean, the staging of the scene? The pretense of playing dress up, putting on identities?  The obvious mendacity of the photographs? (go watch the video, tell what you think, maybe I’m wrong).

And I was immediately like, “I don’t agree at all.” Part of the daily shoot assignment for this week was to take a self-portrait, so I took four, three posted elsewhere and the one at the top of this post. That felt good. That felt like storytelling, to me.

Harlan Howard once described country music as “three chords and the truth,” which, as long as you don’t think too long about what the word ‘truth’ means, seems right on.



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This entry was posted on April 10, 2013 by in deep thoughts, photo, umdst and tagged , , , , , .
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