Claire Yaffa: Leica Notebook, Thoughts of Photographers, Poets and Dreamers, Chapter 41

“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many.” – Phaedrus
”We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin

In the history of photography, the mystery of a photograph is perhaps not the reality, but what is hidden underneath. John Berger has written “the true content of a photograph is invisible … the objects recorded in any photograph … what varies is the intensity with which we are made aware of the poles of absence and presence. Between these two poles, photography finds its proper meaning (The most popular use of the photograph is as a memento of the absent). A photograph, whilst recording what has been seen, always and by its nature refers to what is not seen.”

Nathan Lyons who was assistant director of Eastman House, asked the members of his private classes whether they see what they believe, or believe what they see. The question asked, do people see themselves in photographs in spite of themselves? What is it we see? Does the photograph function as a mirror of our thoughts and feelings?

Minor White discusses the word “equivalence.” He explains that when a photograph functions as an equivalent, the photograph is at once a record of something in front of the camera and simultaneously a spontaneous symbol. He suggests that the photographer had a feeling about the subject which was more than the real image. The photograph becomes a metaphor which the photographer shares with the viewer.  Perhaps this might explain why we do not see things as they are, but convey in our photographs who we are or aspire to be.

– Claire Yaffa

You can also see more of Claire’s work on her website, claireyaffa.com.

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5 comments

  • Important work. Very personal and deeply felt.

    I am affected by it very much.

    Sincerely yours,

    Joe Abate

  • Claire,

    Your talent unfolds like a blossoming flower
    vulnerable, opening itself to the new day
    each image authentic, original and always beauitiful
    like the photographer herself

    Kathy Gurfein

  • Dear Claire,

    Your talent unfolds like a blossoming flower
    vulnerable, as it opens itself to the new day
    images emotional, original and always beautiful
    like the photographer herself

    Kathy Gurfein

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