Curious Frame - Happy Birthday Curious Frame!
Issue #42 - 13 October 2021
One year ago, I started Curious Frame for my thoughts on photography. The act of shooting is very different than that of viewing and attempting to understand how photography influences our lives.
There are many new subscribers since the inception of this newsletter and it is a good time to have a look at the last year and the ground covered through the various topics discussed.
Each subject discussed throughout the newsletter merely touches on an aspect of photography. Looking back at the previous issues I can begin to connect some of the pieces and expand on them.
I thank you for following my journey into the life of photography. It is a journey of passion and it is therefore more about how photos can make us feel rather than any scientific investigation. I do hope that you enjoy it. Comments and suggestions are welcome.
If you find value in reading Curious Frame, you can now support my research and writing into my thoughts on photography. But no sweat if you’re unable to contribute. The newsletter is still free for everyone. A big thanks to those who contributed!
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!
All you need to do to join the dialogue is hit reply. You can even reply to earlier issues as well. The comment below is in response to the previous issue on Photography is Amazing.
One reader wrote:
Oh! Yes, the photography is amazing! So much so that after cameras were added to telephones and social media, I don't see any other invention capable of displacing photography as the most used invention in human history!
In many spheres it becomes the most incredible tool to express what you see and feel to document society! Are three words enough to express all that photography is currently for the modern world?
Yes and no, no and yes, I think we could even summarize the photograph in one word, "everything"!
Thank you so much to my friend in Brazil for your contribution! Yes, photography is everything!
Reflections on a Curious Frame
After one year of writing about being curious about the meaning of photography, it's time for a little reflection on where the journey has taken us.
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’.
The above quote is mine and it is the mission statement of Curious Frame. While it's not possible for us to look under the surface of every photo. We can spend time on a number of issues that photography presents us with.
Photography is a Language (Issue 2) was the first topic that I wrote about in the Curious Frame newsletter. It is an overarching subject that has been central to every issue.
As in spoken and written language, it is easy to gloss over the meaning of an image. In the blink of an eye we can decide on the meaning of a photo without looking at it at a deeper level.
Certainly, not all images require out undivided attention. Of course, that would pose a real challenge considering how many images we are bombarded with on a daily basis.
Sometimes a photo really stands in for writing. It takes the place of a written article in a newspaper or magazine like the above photo from a photo essay from The New York Times.
If you read an article that said that a woman who was on the Roosevelt Island tram was crocheting and oblivious to a reindeer next to her, would you believe that? And even if you did believe, could you imagine it?
Photography is a language in more than just the way that we might look at photos of food to see what a particular dish would look like. If it looks appetizing we may opt to eat at a restaurant that makes it.
The above photo was included in Issue 2
and it remains to be one of my favorite photos even after 2 1/2 years. The thing about it is that you can see the tension between these two men.
While no words are necessary to express some things through photography, it can act as a kind of language in which we don't need a cue card to signal what's going on.
And yet, we can all come away with our own version of the story in the photo. Not only are words not needed to explain the situation to us, it also transcends languages.
In literature it's possible to write a story in such a way that we know more about the protagonist than they do. When I look at the above photo, I see a woman who is the center of attention and she is very much unaware of it.
While the language of reading a photograph is far more nuanced than reading a sentence, there’s actually a lot more going on in the brain when we view images. Photography, like poetry when it is done successfully, does not contain one meaning as if there was an ideal Truth. Quote by me from Issue 2 of Curious Frame.
While the language of photography often provides us with a surface level meaning, it is important to note that there can easily be something more going on than a quick glance can grasp.
The above self-portrait by Germaine Krull is a very cool photo. However, to our modern vision an important element in it may be missing. If you took the same photo now in the age of selfies, we might just look at it and say "cool camera."
The New Woman as an individual pursued freedom on multiple fronts: the right to vote, have a professional life, enter politics, enjoy sexual liberty, play sports, and travel independently. Andrea Nelson, The New Woman Behind the Camera.
When Krull took this photo of herself it was a rebellious act. Women photographers 100 years ago were using the camera as a tool to not only create photos, but also to declare their independence.
So even though it is possible to understand much by merely looking at a photo. There is also more going on in a photo than meets the eye. That is especially true of photos that were taken before our time.
It's easy to overlook the difference between looking and seeing. That is the subject of Issue 3 of Curious Frame. The difference between looking at the self-portrait of Krull and seeing it, is understanding what lies beneath the surface.
Curious Frame is here for just that, understanding what lies below the surface and how it influences the way we think and experience life. And yes, your comments are encouraged. It's easy to add your opinion. Just hit reply in your email.
Sharing is Cool! If you’ve been forwarded this email or are reading online, consider joining the dialogue by subscribing. If you are looking for past issues you can find them all in the archive at the link below.
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In a world that is overpopulated with images, Curious Frame is where I share my thoughts on photography and it is always about ‘seeing with new eyes’.
Three words will continue in the next issue. In the meantime, you can see the previous 3 installments in previous issues and you can also still contribute.
It’s fun and easy and there are no right or wrong answers and there’s only one question:
What are 3 words, possibly adjectives, that you would use to describe photography. What you think of it, what you like about it, whatever. Three words!
The New Woman Behind the Camera, published by The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 2020.
You can also find me at:
Leanne Staples is a lens-based artist, photographer and writer based in New York City. She specializes in abstract and street photography.
Independently published artist zines and photo books, along with original works of art by the New York based artist, photographer and writer, Leanne Staples.
Personalized walking photo tours and street photography workshops by independent licensed New York City tour guide and photographer Leanne Staples.