Friday, March 29, 2013

A Sense of Place and Time

When I think about what constitutes a good photograph, especially a travel photograph, two qualities stand out to me: place and time. The place part is more for the viewer while the time element is for me. Either I want the viewer to recognize where the picture was taken, at least to some degree, or I want the photograph to evoke a memory of where I was at the time and why I decided to depress the shutter. Since the vast majority of people I know have never been to Cuba, a sense of place recognition might be asking too much in these three photos. The viewer should be able to tell, however, that they were taken in a tropical climate. The twenty or so friends that I have traveled to Cuba with should instantly be able to recognize where these are. Time is harder. The top photograph brings me back to Trinidad in 2009. It was the middle of the day and I was completely drenched and exhausted after walking around the streets for a couple of hours. I couldn't move another step and asked my wife if we could just get out of the heat and stop for a beer. After that, we could stagger back to the hotel. I remember being self-conscious about the copious quantity of sweat I was emitting and feeling uncomfortable about sitting down and getting a chair wet. Once I got a beer and started to relax, I began to look out through the distinctive Trinidadian windows and watch passersby. I took a few pictures until I got a person between the bars. I also remember alternately  focusing on the bars and then the people. I like the bars in focus better. In the middle photo, in Havana, I had to be patient and wait for the boys to get out of the water, stand on the rocks, wait for the tide to swell before they jumped, and get an interesting body posture during the dive. At bottom, walking around Havana near our hotel, I decided to go in a direction I hadn't explored and discovered this park. What I distinctly remember is trying to get all eleven boys to respond to me wanting to take their picture. The three kids on the left clearly weren't as interested as the group of eight on the right. The architecture in the background instantly tells me it's Havana.

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