Claire Yaffa: Thoughts of Photographers, Philosophers and Dreamers, Chapter 25

Claire Yaffa took her first photograph 45 years ago when her son was 18 months old and it was the beginning of her journey, first as a mother, then as a photographer. She has worked extensively for The New York Times and Associated Press. Her photographs have appeared in countless influential publications and have been exhibited at major venues in the US and around the world.

Steiglitz has written, “the most difficult problem in photography is to learn to see. All else is comparatively simple, and one can only learn to see through comparison, through contrast. That is every artist’s great secret.” Kertesz said, “everybody can look, but they don’t necessarily see.” Emmet Gowin , an eminent photographer, has said, “What always interests me is the story behind [pictures]. It’s the going to, as Diane Arbus said, the going to places, the going and stepping into mysteries that you don’t understand.” Gowin has explained, “the challenge of photography is to show the thing photographed so that our feelings are awakened and hidden aspects are revealed.” He feels that “whatever picture an artist makes it is in part a picture of himself — a matter of identity.” George Rodger said that one views what is out there but the real source comes from within you, “from inside your head or your heart.”

The photographs for this chapter were taken at many different times and with different themes and subjects. However, there is a thread and common feeling. When viewed together, hands became prominent, conveying the feeling and story behind the project to be photographed. To other photographers who view this chapter, is this what happens to you, whether on assignment or as Kertesz urges us, “to really see” and I will add to “really feel what you want to photograph”?

- Claire Yaffa

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