Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Capture The Moment

Back in March, I wrote a blog post entitled "The Power Of The Still Frame". In that piece, I talked about the emotional impact of an individual photograph and its ability to freeze time, convey a message, and make a lasting impression. As part of that post, I included four photographs as examples of what I was referring to. Oddly enough, this past weekend I was able to view three out of these four images. Not only that, I was able to view every Pulitzer Prize winning photograph from 1942 (the year of the award's inception) to the present. "How?", you ask. By attending a magnificent exhibit at The Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA entitled "Capture The Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs". The exhibit is a traveling one, so it may well also be coming to a city somewhere near you.

Imagine seeing wall size photographs that take you through history along with information about each and every image. I am not talking about technical information, but, rather, a description of what was going on, a description of the photographers feelings, a description of how the photo came to be......mostly in the photographers own words. I don't believe there could be a better way to understand and connect with each image. And, like it or not, you will connect, and it's not all pleasant. In fact, most of it is unpleasant, to say the least. Remember, these are journaistic images.

Executions, accidents, will be reminded of just how terribly violent a species we can be. You will be brought back to events from your youth and, once rechallenged with these events, think about their meaning again and again. Prepare to have your emotions dragged around. You can't walk through the exhibit without getting tearful several times. It is perhaps futile for me to try to describe the feeling of viewing photo after photo of the events that have shaped our culture, our history and our lives. Multiple reviews in newspapers and on-line will undoubtedly do this better than I possibly could.

Besides the intense experience of viewing the photos and trying to digest it all, there was another message that came through to me from a purely photographic viewpoint.......and by stating it I by no means want to detract from the emotional experience of the exhibit. It is just that everyone attending will understand the emotion, but perhaps not everyone attending will think about this: many of the images are less than technically perfect. Some lack perfect focus, some have suboptimal depth of field, some would have been better presented with longer focal lengths so that the subject would not have to be circled to draw your attention.......but they all captured more than just a mere moment or event; in a fraction of a second they captured the very essence of events that have defined who we were, who we are, and where we seem to be heading.

If you live in Western Pennsylvania, or if the exhibit comes to a city near wherever you might be, you really owe it to yourself to take the time to have a look.