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Curious Frame - Issue #47 - For better or for worse

Curious Frame
Curious Frame - Issue #47 - For better or for worse
By Leanne Staples • Issue #47 • View online
For better or for worse, I am wedded to photography. While most people are familiar with my street photography, I also create a large number of abstract photography and mixed media images.
Throughout this issue I am using some of my abstract works as I feel that they are closer to a poetic form of image-making. They are more nuanced and allow for broader interpretations.
I adore street photography. It is an activity that I fully enjoy. It is my livelihood and I have the great good fortune of having customers from every walk of life and country from around the world. Many of them are friends now.
Freedom is playing against the camera. Vilém Flusser
But I often feel that anyone could’ve taken the same street photo. And of course, they are no originals in street photography. They can be mass produced regardless if they are analog or digital.
Mixed media, photomontage, multiple exposures, photo transfer and scanner movement are just a few of the other areas that I create in. And they all use photography to one degree or another and they are original.
So photography will always be part of who I am. Thank you for following in my curious journey in my thoughts on photography and being patient as I work to produce each issue of this newsletter.

Reader's Comments:
Curious Frame exists for you the readers. It is fabulous when people are involved in the dialogue and with so many different opinions about what photography means to us. Let the dialogue continue!
One reader commented on Issue 46 On Originality & Chance:
Hi Leanne, long time without writing about my photographic curiosities… I think what’s been calling my attention the most in the current photography exposed mainly on social photo platforms, I mean Instagram and Flickr, is the amount of photos that go up daily, street photography especially becoming a craze, a fad. 
The fact that everyone carries a lens in their pocket, I won’t call a phone a camera, contributes a lot to this and I would sincerely like to know Cartier-Bresson’s opinion, if he were alive among us, about this photographic boom of street photography. 
I especially call this trend of abuse in the reflected images, as if they were layers and more layers, making it very difficult to read the photo. It seems to me that the harder it is to read the photo, the more success and likes it gets. 
Another fact that’s been going through my head a lot is if this huge amount of photos we’ve been seeing is being good or bad for photography? I already touched on this subject in a previous issue, but this is a subject that I think about again and again and I don’t even know if I have a formed opinion about it, because if on the one hand I think it’s positive, on the other I think it can come to trivialize the image and its artistic importance. 
How many questions I’ve been asking and I don’t even have answers to them, do you have? 
I’m always waiting for answers in your numbers of Curious frame, which I always read with great pleasure. 
Leanne, I’ll stop here, hoping that what I write will help you create Curious Frame for us. 
Warm hugs from Brazil! 
Thank you so much my photog friend in Brazil! You are of course, asking the same questions about photography that I’m attempting to address here in Curious Frame.
It is through dialogue that we are able to come to some kind of consensus what it all means. Perhaps it will be written in 50 years in primers on photography. Sometimes we only truly understand through hindsight.
Regardless, photography has become perhaps the most important and not fully understood medium in our days.
One of the biggest problems with social media is the lack of dialogue. So often it is more like a monologue. All you need to do is hit reply in your email! Easy.
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What happened to the future?, (multiple exposure) New York City, 21 January 2021.
What happened to the future?, (multiple exposure) New York City, 21 January 2021.
Photography - for better or for worse
Photography never ceases to amaze me. For better or for worse. Our culture has come to rely heavily on images. A good example is Instagram. I’m always amazed when people actually read the text that accompanies a photo.
We consume images without much thought to their meaning. It gets broken down to those images we like and those we don’t like. Much of it is merely eye candy anyway. An overload of images that creates a blur.
I’m no techie. In fact, I’m the opposite. Technology is a tool to be used. Not one to be lead by. Perhaps I’m deluded in thinking that I’m not being lead by it.
The Search for Intelligent Life, (photomontage)New York City, 27 October 2020.
The Search for Intelligent Life, (photomontage)New York City, 27 October 2020.
But technology often leads to binaries. One or the other. So of course, for better or worse is often a little more nuanced. It’s not so black and white. I strive for the middle ground. Neither this nor that.
For better is the inspiration it provides as a form of art and it’s ability to document the world we live in and provide greater understanding, regardless of language.
It’s possible that it’s easier to grasp the meaning of things through an image than through words. A photo is capable of saying more with less. 
Recognize Arts, (photomontage) New York City, 25 October 2020.
Recognize Arts, (photomontage) New York City, 25 October 2020.
Photography can be like a form of poetry. It leaves space for us to interpret its meaning. Meaning need not be deep. Meaning is personal and doesn’t require a degree to understand.
Once upon a time, much photography was rather pedantic. It was used to illustrate simple concepts. Like young children’s books. An image of an apple and the word apple next to it.
An amazing aspect of images and photography is that we perceive them without the intellect needing to name them. They are so thoroughly embedded that we no longer need to process them.
Fan Club, (scanner movement & photomontage) New York City, 11 January 2022.
Fan Club, (scanner movement & photomontage) New York City, 11 January 2022.
Perhaps when we were learning a new language or are first learning our mother tongue it was important for us to see it and mentally say the word.
For worse, the list is not confined to a single example. False or misleading advertising or fake events are just a few examples of this.
The horrors of war like what’s taking place in Ukraine is an example that is good for us to understand what’s really going on rather than relying on text. Photos allow us to read between the lines. The photos of the war shocking and sad. My thoughts go out to the people of Ukraine.
precisely that amount of importance, (scanner movement & mixed media) New York City, 21 December 2021
precisely that amount of importance, (scanner movement & mixed media) New York City, 21 December 2021
It’s not so good when we become inured to the site of war. That is in part, a form of self-preservation. We all need to find methods to cope in the midst of things that don’t make sense. War never makes sense.
For worse, we take photos out of their context and think them to not be as bad as they are. Photos are only one part of a picture. We can be manipulated by them. How often do you stop and wonder what these images are about?
There is no objectivity in images or words. We are always inside of the thoughts, words and images that we create. There’s no standing outside of them to be a fair judge. We always drag our baggage along with us in how we view the world.
I always look forward to your comments and suggestions.
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Yes, you can buy me a coffee or if you'd rather, even a book!
Yes, you can buy me a coffee or if you'd rather, even a book!
If you enjoy reading Curious Frame, you can support my research and writing into my thoughts on photography. But no sweat if you’re unable to contribute. The newsletter is free for everyone. A very very big thanks to those who contributed!
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can we dream?, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 28 February 2022
can we dream?, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 28 February 2022
On Creativity
Creativity is the defeat of habit by originality. Arthur Koestler
The creative path is not an easy one. But if it’s in your genes, you can’t ignore it as hard as you might try. I spent many years of my life in thankless jobs that I did quite well at.
I had the mistaken belief that I was on the right path whatever that might be. I am officially a late bloomer. I always have been and I’ve mostly done things backwards my entire life.
I can tell you that I have a fair amount of wisdom. What that really means is that I’ve made a million mistakes really well and I’ve actually learned from some of them.
lost, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 10 March 2022.
lost, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 10 March 2022.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Scott Adams
Creativity takes courage. But if it’s the only thing that you really know, you do it. Not everything works and not everyone will like it.
After many years in corporate sales, I finally learned that you never want to be everything for everyone. The more niche (rhymes with quiche) you are, the better.
I’ve had to learn how to be myself. Strange to think of it that way. But it’s true. I’ve had to unlearn many things in my life to arrive at where I am.
remember when, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 8 March 2022
remember when, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 8 March 2022
Creativity is the residue of time wasted. Albert Einstein.
And I’m still a work in progress. Yes, there’s no graduation. It is always a moving target.
I love street photography and abstract methods because there is no cul de sac. My previous career was a dead end and I fell down Alice in Wonderland’s hole that never seemed to end.
So I realized through experience that I really didn’t fit in. Artists don’t normally fit in. I ended up where I am through a failure to fit in.
without words, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 1 March 2022
without words, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 1 March 2022
I never said to myself that I’m going to be an artist, writer and street photographer. I was doing these things and continually coming back to them over the years.
When I was about 12, my mother signed me up for art classes on the weekends at Cranbrook. It is a leading private art school in the US. The classes were classical art style. Drawing skeletons.
I was bored to death. I believe it’s a good thing that I didn’t study any of my pursuits formally. There are no recipes for being creative. It is all by exploring and finding what works and what doesn’t work. I’ve learned much through failed attempts and so-called mistakes.
secrets, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 28 February 2022
secrets, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 28 February 2022
Creativity is a messy process. You should see my studio! But it’s not just a physical mess. It’s also internal. As soon as you figure something out, it’s time to improvise on that or take a new direction.
Whether it’s my business providing photo tours and workshops, writing creatively and my newsletters or creating various forms of art, there’s no manual.
I’ve made most of it up as I go. I’ve spent many years reading, viewing art and photography and taking the parts that I like and finding ways to incorporate them into what I do.
the confidante, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 11 March 2022.
the confidante, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 11 March 2022.
I even appropriate my own work as you can see in the above image and the one that I used about 6 images above. People occasionally ask how long did it take to make an image. My answer is all of my life.
If you change one element in your past, you change everything. But don’t get me wrong, I love doing what I’m doing. I’d just like people to know that the creative act is never as simple as it might seem.
Perhaps being a heart surgeon or a rocket scientist seems more difficult, unless of course you are one. Things don’t always appear to be as we would think from standing outside looking in.
help wanted, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 4 March 2022
help wanted, (mixed media photomontage) New York City, 4 March 2022
I mentor people from time-to-time in various aspects of art and photography. I think that it’s important to think of being creative as a process and that it’s always individual.
Even in my street photography workshops I emphasize that it’s always about finding your style, not imitating someone else’s style.
I would love to hear about your experiences or questions in photography and the creative process. It’s easy, just hit reply. I like to share your comments as you are probably not alone in your feelings.
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The above images are part of a new series titled Interior World and you can see it on my site at:
interior world - Leanne Staples
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Further Viewing:
Forgive me for giving you an ad for Master Class for the further viewing video. I really liked his lesson and maybe one or two others before cancelling my subscription to Master Class. In under 3 minutes he provides some ideas about creativity and yes, he’s quirky.
David Lynch Teaches Creativity and Film | Official Trailer | MasterClass
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You can also find me at:
Artist, Photographer & Writer - Leanne Staples
Shop for Art, Zines & Publications - Leanne Staples
Walking Photo Tours & Street Photography Workshops in New York City
Did you enjoy this issue?
Leanne Staples

In a world that is overpopulated with images, Curious Frame is where I share my thoughts on photography. It is always about ‘seeing with new eyes’.

I’m Leanne Staples, a photographer, artist, and writer living in New York City. Street photography and lens-based art are my passions, and Curious Frame is where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on these passions.

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