Poetry in Photography
Amongst the several of the Great American Photographers such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Ansel Adams , Walker Evans , Minor White can certainly be regarded by many as one of the leading innovators in the field of photography . Minor White unlike most of his fellow photographers was a textural photographer .
White could photograph objects such as a leaf , a bush , a tree , or a crack in the road , peeling paint , and make one see an entirely New World within that picture . Minor White possessed great vision – not only as a photographer, but as an educator , poet and critic .
Minor White was born in Minneapolis , Minnesota in early 1908 , and although he majored in Botany ( which is what I assume led to his affinity for photographing the overlooked upon details of objects ) , he soon discovered that botany was not to be his calling in life and began shifting towards photography.
White soon found employment with the Works Progress Administration in Oregon in 1938 onto 1939 , and in 1942 volunteered for active duty during the onset of World War 2 up until his release at the end of the war in 1945 . In late of 1945 , White decided to further his studies in photography and studied under Edward Weston which was extremely intense due to the tonal beauty of his photographs.
During 1965 White became Professor of Photography at MIT ( Bill Gate’s Alma Mater – Massachussets Institute of Technology ) , where he served until the year he passed away in 1976 . When White was chosen by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to head its new department of black and white photography in 1965, the appointment came as no surprise to White’s fellow black and white photographers. It seemed wholly logical that a prestigious center of scientific learning should seek out the man whose eminence not only in his profession but as teacher, critic, and editor had made him what one critic called “the most influential black and white photographer to reach creative maturity since World War II.”
White’s nature studies are so devotedly observed abstractions, however – when he photographed male nudes , he managed to evoke a lyrical passion & unmatched eroticism . White was not only an astoundingly amazing photographer who has managed to leave behind him a vast array of magnificent works – but moreover : he has managed to influence many great photographers of today who have studied & emulated his unique style .
Minor White was not only a great Photographer – he was also an amazing poet , and when one looks at his works , they are able to see that behind it lies poetry in motion regardless of the work being a still life rendition . White’s writings emphasized and promoted his ideas as in : Mirrors , Messages and Manifestation . Minor White’s work can undoubtedly be regarded as incendiary and original and one in which the medium of photography has been forever altered !
* Although many of minor white’s works are not available online enjoy a few of a master’s works .
Poetry in Photography : Minor White
Evocative photography & poetic quotes by a master
” The state of mind of a photographer while creating is a blank…For those who would equate “blank” with a kind of static emptiness, I must explain that this is a special kind of blank. It is a very active state of mind really, a very receptive state of mind, ready at an instant to grasp an image, yet with no image pre-formed in it at any time. We should note that the lack of a pre-formed pattern or preconceived idea of how anything ought to look is essential to this blank condition. Such a state of mind is not unlike a sheet of film itself – seemingly inert, yet so sensitive that a fraction of a second’s exposure conceives a life in it. (Not just life, but “a” life). ”
- Minor White, The Camera Mind and Eye
“I have often photographed when I am not in tune with nature but the photographs look as if I had been. So I conclude that something in nature says, ‘Come and take my photograph.’ So I do, regardless of how I feel. “
” Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence. “
” When I looked at things for what they are I was fool enough to persist in my folly and found that each photograph was a mirror of my Self “
” As I become more in harmony with the world around, through, and in me, the varieties of time weave together. “
“There’s no particular class of photograph that I think is any better than any other class. I’m always and forever looking for the image that has spirit! I don’t give a damn how it got made.”
“one does not photograph something simply for “what it is”, but “for what else it is”.
” At first glance a photograph can inform us. At second glance it can reach us. “
” Reaching a ‘creative’ state of mind thru positive action is cons
idered preferable to waiting for ‘inspiration’. “
” We emphasized the creativeness that happens at the moment of seeing over the kind that takes place in the dark room. “
“A very receptive state of mind…not unlike a sheet of film itself – seemingly inert, yet so sensitive that a fraction of a second’s exposure conceives a life in it.”
“Often while traveling with a camera we arrive just as the sun slips over the horizon of a moment, too late to expose film, only time enough to expose our hearts.”
A photographer has a response to the world and attempts to acquire that response, a stimulating image, technically. Related images are formed in the heads of observers, to each his/her own.
A print is primarily a vehicle for an image, though it can also be an object. I like the physical substance of prints and I like the fact that they don’t require electricity. I’m proud of my print skill-sets but I’ve got a long way to go. It’s good, to my way of thinking, to pursue rabbits I’ll never catch. Prints are not images.
” The photographer projects himself into everything he sees, identifying himself with everything in order to know it and to feel it better. “
” Sequences originate for me from some hidden place. Though I habitually play photographs against each other, or words against images in pairs, triplets, or rows of four with expectations of magic, sequences originate from within. And I prefer to let them. In fact I cannot seriously do otherwise than photograph on impulse and let whatever words will, flow spontaneously. “
“While we cannot describe its appearance (the equivalent), we can define its function. When a photograph functions as an Equivalent we can say that at that moment, and for that person the photograph acts as a symbol or plays the role of a metaphor for something that is beyond the subject photographed.”
” A sequence of photographs is like a cinema of stills. The time and space between photographs is filled by the beholder, first of all from himself, then from what he can read in the implications of design, the suggestions springing from treatment, and any symbolism that might grow from within the subject itself. “
” I seek out places where it can happen more readily, such as deserts or mountains or solitary areas, or by myself with a seashell, and while I’m there get into states of mind where I’m more open than usual. I’m waiting, I’m listening. I go to those places and get myself ready through meditation. Through being quiet and willing to wait, I can begin to see the inner man and the essence of the subject in front of me… Watching the way the current moves a blade of grass – sometimes I’ve seen that happen and it has just turned me inside out. “
” To engage a sequence we keep in mind the photographs on either side of the one in our eye. “
Camera and eye are together a time machine with which the mind and human being can do the same kind of violence to time and space as dreams.
” …innocence of eye has a quality of its own. It means to see as a child sees, with freshness and acknowledgment of the wonder; it also means to see as an adult sees who has gone full circle and once again sees as a child – with freshness and an even deeper sense of wonder. “
” No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen. “
” Photography is a language more universal than words. “
Minor white : photographing – 1937
” I am always mentally photographing everything as practice. “
From the book : ” Lives I’ve Never Lived ” , a portrait of Minor White. Photographs by Abe Frajndlich.
“Eye , Mind , Spirit ” : The Enduring Legacy of Minor White
Minor white : Rites & Passages
One of the best books on the Spirit of Photography
Minor White : ” Driftwood Eye “
Minor White : ” Barnacles , Los Lobos -Calif. “
Discover the work of one of today’s great Fine Arts Photographers :Troy Ziel , who attributes his style of capturing photographs to the great Master himself : Minor white : ” My body of work for the most part, is finding that special calm and simplicity among chaos. Before making a capture, I become still and connected with absolute presence with the famous quote by photographer Minor White in mind, “Be still with yourself, until the object of your attention affirms your presence.”
The Amazing Photography of Troy Ziel