Friday, August 9, 2013

Photographic persuasion through subject matter and composition.

The Nahanni Portfolio, by Pat and Rosemarie Keough.

However ugly the parts appear the whole remains beautiful.... Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things. Love that, not man apart from that, or else you will share man's pitiful confusions, or drown in despair when his day's darken.
Robinson Jeffers

This beautiful book is in our Saltspring Library and is well worth a look and read. The Nahanni has been a mythical place for me since my childhood, and here are a lot of fine photographs, ones I'm sure we would all like to have taken, or made.

These colour images seem just like slices of reality, what a camera does so well, but hidden behind the fa├žade is a lot of selection and careful framing and composition, a lot of just plain good camera work. It is a compliment to the Keoughs that the viewer can be so easily guided into forgetting the mind behind the camera, the selectivity of the photographer. This reminds me of Wade Davis' recent book on the Sacred Headwaters area in nearby northern BC, and how powerful photographs can be, how persuasive, and how, if we agree with the ideas presented, we can be oblivious to the power of a point of view.

These images are harmoniously composed in the traditional manner, they are satisfying to the eye and thereby help us agree that nature is also harmonious. The text however does tell the history of this region, both the dramatic geological history of mountain building that explains what we see today and the human history of bloody conflict, disease and murders. And so we are given both sides of the Nahanni, its drama and yet its overall continuity; a valuable understanding as we watch Earth's and human beings violent history even within our own short life span.

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