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Curious Frame - Issue #7 The Thrill is Gone

Curious Frame
Curious Frame - Issue #7 The Thrill is Gone
By Leanne Staples • Issue #7 • View online
Here we are in the last month of 2020. A challenging year to say the least. Many publications and photographers are compiling what they think of as the best photos of the year. How long will we even remember most of them?

Politics, the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests will likely be at the top of the lists. Yet they barely scratch the surface when the toll is taken on how many photographs are taken in a single day and uploaded to social media sites.

In this issue I attempt to conquer the subject of how photography has influenced us and how we rarely pay much notice to it anymore. The thrill may in fact be gone. But what came before the proliferation of digital technology and a camera in every pocket?

I remember the feeling in the days of film photography, there was a sense that you could actually capture something unique that no one else could replicate. You might actually be able to take a photo of history in the making. At minimum, there was the anticipation of getting your photos developed to see what you captured. It was exciting.

Do you still get a thrill about seeing your photos or viewing the photography of others? Do you remember a time that really stands out as memorable so much so that you have the image of that photo etched in your mind?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. To join the dialogue you only need to hit the reply button in your email. If you would like to read previous issues of the newsletter you can find them at the link below. And feel free to share the newsletter.
Curious Frame | Revue
Reader's comments
One reader commented on Issue 6 - Photography is a Reflection:
Curious because what we do here in this photographic ping pong caused by you is exactly to reflect not only on the photo but on photography.
The image we see in the mirror is called a reflection 
The reflection is the inverted image 
To reflect is to think
The principle of photography is the light reflected by some external object and that crosses when entering through an orifice where it will form an inverted image when it finds a background, it is the principle of the dark camera, now known as pinhole. 
The photograph then started, inverted or reflected. Good start!
larger than life, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 2008
larger than life, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 2008
The Shock of the New or The Thrill is Gone
We take photography for granted. There is the photography that we chose to view and then there are the millions of photos that enter our field of vision without our choosing and without our consent. 

Can we even imagine a time before photography existed? We photograph on a daily basis and we are being photographed everywhere we go, without our permission or knowledge.

I had wondered if being blind would be a situation where you could go back to a time before photography existed? To try to get an understanding of what a world without photography would be like.

The importance of photography and what we know is so deeply ingrained that it is perhaps not possible to gain a true understanding of its influence on our lives. To actually imagine what the world was like before photography.

But clearly, the answer is no. Even blindness would not provide the experience of a world before photography. Much of what we know or understand is in large part because of photography. The list of kinds of photography is endless. Try and imagine medicine without x-rays or the internet without photos. On Wikipedia there are more than 100 different kinds of photography listed!
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, circa 1826
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, circa 1826
Photography is a new technology. It is older than the oldest living person in the world. So we can’t even interview people who lived during the birth of photography. Nevertheless it is still young and there is much that we do not even understand about its effect on our culture and the way that we think and see the world we live in.

A little research is needed to come to an idea how photography was received. But to be certain, early photography was seen as magic, alchemy and even the work of the devil. It was also a big disruptor in the world of art. (I’ll be writing about that in a future issue.)

In 1901, Emile Zola wrote “In my view, you cannot claim to have really seen something until you have photographed it.” This was said with a bit of cynicism. I wonder what Zola would say now with people sharing every meal that they eat on social media?

The above photo is thought of as the very first photo in history. But it’s not likely that many people were able to view it back then. One of the assets of the internet is that most people can see photographic images like never before. We can all witness these at the same time.
Remember when, New York City, October 2009
Remember when, New York City, October 2009
In the same breath that is both a great thing as an equalizer and also a method of lessening the value of photography, especially as people with a smart phone often replace the work of photo journalists and we start believing everything we see because of the repetition of the same photos.

It’s this thought that if a thing is repeatable that it makes it true in some kind of pseudo-scientific manner that creates a problem. As humans we are quite capable of being deceived in many ways including through photography.

Not only is there such a thing as fake news, there are also fake photos, doctored photos and photos that are real but are attributed to something that it has nothing to do with. But these are topics for a different issue of the newsletter.
Neil Armstrong on the Moon, July 21, 1969
Neil Armstrong on the Moon, July 21, 1969
Do you remember the photo of the first man on the moon? Photography was already more than 100 years old then. But we were amazed and in awe seeing it. In the drug dazed days of the 1960s, this was a cosmic life altering image. Even for those who were sober then.

It was science fiction come true. And yes, some people think that the images taken on the Moon were faked. Whatever, I leave that to people who want to follow conspiracy theories.
Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968
Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968
In 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey came out with imaginary images that attempted to create images of space even before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Kubrick utilized some very psychedelic imagery in parts of the film.

By the way, Kubrick was an amazing photographer before he ventured into filmmaking. And his filmmaking was very much influenced by photography.

There was a time when we could look at a photo and dream, and let our imaginations go wild with possibilities. How many people, perhaps children, saw the photos of a man on the moon and dreamed of becoming an astronaut?
JR in Greenwich Village, New York City, September 2011
JR in Greenwich Village, New York City, September 2011
Photography has the power to set our imaginations free to imagine those things that start as fantasy or science fiction and later become true. Yes, photography contains an element of magic in it.

There are a handful of images that can be easily imprinted in the brain of things that we captured in photos and that produced a sense of excitement and thrill. They are the gold nuggets buried under landfills of mediocre and disposable photography that we are constantly bombarded with.

Remember disposable cameras? It was the camera that was disposable and presumably not the photos taken with it.

But I say that perhaps the thrill is gone. We are no longer or at least rarely excited by a photo. We’ve become immune to much of what photography has become. I ask you, are there any recent photos that you are in awe of now and that have become imprinted in your mind?

I have touched on many topics that will be addressed in upcoming issues. I imagine that some of you will be anticipated those as you read this issue. Thank you for taking part in this journey of the world of photography with me. So many thoughts about photography!
Exciting news
Always in Vogue, New York City, November 2020
Always in Vogue, New York City, November 2020
If you’re in New York City, you can view 9 of my street photos at 600 Madison Avenue at 58th Street. It is so fabulous to have my photos displayed. It’s kind of like a gallery exhibit but much bigger and better. They will be there for 6 months or earlier depending on when the space is leased.
Reading list
I am currently preparing a very long list of all the books that I am reading and have read. If you’re interested in receiving a copy of it, let me know. I need to decide on a good method to share it so that it will work for everyone.
Further viewing
By now you might think that I am cynical about the role of photography in the world we live in. Not so. Actually I love photography.

I invite you to watch this short video on the work of JR. You may, like me, come close to shedding a tear of joy and see that photos can awaken genuine emotions in us just by displaying gigantic photos of everyday people around the world. And 2 photos up you will see a photo that I took with a JR piece in it.
How Artist JR Is Helping Connect Our Humanity Through Street Art | TED + GBS Present Torchbearers
Tis the Season
If you are looking for holiday gifts and you like the idea of shopping from an indie artist for unique items, I have a few suggestions here. You can purchase my new series of Mail Art exclusively in the shop at That Other Space. Do check out their shop:

That Other Space Shop – Mail Art # 1 - La vie bohémienne by Leanne Staples
And in my shop, I have a number of original prints, photo zines and some new mini art packages as well. They ship internationally and post in 3-5 business days.

A Walk in the Park (Prints & Writing) - Leanne Staples
You can also find me and information about my street photography workshops and photo tours on my Shoot New York City website. I am very conscious of the pandemic and we always wear masks and social distance. I offer gift certificates and they don’t expire.

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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