Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Brain Hurts!

I'm one of those camera-shy people.  I am not photogenic. A photographer would have to take scores of shots of me, in hopes of getting one or two which don't have some odd grimace, hair problem, or just an unfortunate angle on my long face. Sure, tell me that I just don't like the way I really look. That's the problem with the camera. It does not lie.

I can only imagine the amazement of people in the 19th century when photography became available to the public. For the first time, people other than the wealthy could have their likenesses in their own hands, a lasting memorial to their looks. And a photograph was the real you. A photographer might pose you to your advantage, but, unlike a painter, he could not (at that time) make you look like anything you were not. It was you, warts and all. More than this, I would imagine it was strange, even difficult, to look at a photographic image after a lifetime of only seeing things represented in paintings, printed engravings, or drawings. For a few years, I had the same feeling looking at Pixar movies. The computer animation was just not processing through my brain properly. It looked like drawing/painting, but it also looked "real".  Too creepy, which is how we often describe information we can't process well. We actually feel "creepy" when our brains don't interpret the unfamiliar.

Dolly and Minerva have the same experience, and they back off.

If you love early photography, especially daguerreotypes, do visit Dennis Waters' Fine Dags website. He, his son, and daughter are top-notch collectors and restorers of daguerreotypes.  You will be amazed by his quality wares and amused by his snappy commentaries. They are situated in Exeter, NH, which isn't terribly far from me. He's encouraged me, by email, to take a trip out and root through three stories of a barn, packed with old dags. 

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