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Quiet Photography

The primary reason this theme was chosen was not to herald the virtues of an introverted lifestyle, but rather contrast the condition in which we live, in daily contact with the overwhelming volume of literature and imagery which occupy the senses. It is a kind of peace offering. Another reason for choosing "quiet" is because it seems an interesting and original alternative to concentrate on an adjective as a theme rather than the usual substantiative oriented categorizations.

Photographs make no physical sound, hence the expression "quiet photography" is metaphorical. When describing the quality of a photo one may use metaphors from the senses - like, a touching picture, or a hot shot. The quietness of a picture rests in a delicacy of light, sign-lessness, and unimposing simplicity, gently displayed through empty form framed without stress or strain. Quiet photography comes from having so few thoughts that one begins to see the overlooked. It comes from an inner spaciousness within which the mind deliberately greets and participates with phenomena. The result is unimposing. Nevertheless, a photograph is neither merely a mirror of the photographer's inner world, nor a transparent window (as the naive realists would have it), but rather a paradoxical union that need not be resolved.

We don't photograph things. We record the way light hits things, or emanates from things as filtered through an optical and chemical or electronic, historically conditioned system of marking surfaces. Photographs don't transcribe reality, but rather appearances made possible by light.

No one intends to make a quiet picture
There is no reason for it at all
except to share
about the moment -
late afternoon yellow
twisted through old glass doors
leading to the balcony
where we don't live anymore
where the cat slept
where tomatoes grew
and things eventually withered
all of this having nothing to do
with the photograph
yet surrounding its framed-ness
with a sense of grace, wealth, memory and loss
The photograph can only show very little

Quiet photography accepts this. It also knows that it’s something special and rare, something very alone in the kiosk, and that it is not better than something loud. A quiet C note is not inherently better than a loud C note. Its appropriateness is fully dependent on context, the other notes, the silences, the laws of harmony, and the delight of those who would embrace or break those laws. Volume can be measured, but the suitability of a metaphor cannot. Pictures are not exactly metaphors, although they can function metaphorically when the figurative analogies they attempt overpower their literal documentary value as evidence and invite a leap of the imagination to something not depicted. Sometimes they come closer to similes: An image of a window is like a window, yet still not a window, although it may open or close something for you, depending how you look at it.

Quiet Photography, circa 1996