Remembering with Photos vs. Sketches
January 15, 2013
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people to see without a camera.”
– Dorothea Lange
“Cameras made the task of keeping a record of people and things simpler and more widely available, and in the process reduced the care and intensity with which people needed to look at the things they wanted to remember well, because pressing a button required less concentration and effort than composing a precise and comely drawing.”
– Michael Kimmelman, The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa
I am certainly guilty of often choosing the ease of photographing to the effort of drawing or sketching. And while I have trained my eye over time to really see and pay attention to what I am photographing, it is true that I look differently when I am attempting to draw or paint.
To draw or paint means to carve out space, time, and materials (brushes, paper, water, good light, etc.), and that is cumbersome compared to snapping a quick photo with a portable device. I can take photos with people around, but I like to draw or paint in solitude. I like to think of my photographs as making art, equal in value to my drawings and paintings.
Something is gained by the ease of digital photographing, but something is lost, too. I’m going to try to cultivate both ways of seeing and remembering.