Wednesday, October 5, 2011

reading reflections.

LOOKING AROUND.

In this chapter Lamott talks about the importance of being observant and paying attention to the world that unfolds around us. A sense of awareness is crucial in helping us understand and relate to others, particularly those that we initially don't recognize as similar to us. However, being aware and observant is not enough - one must also be compassionate in order to recognize meaning in what a subject might be feeling. It's not enough to just capture someone's joy, or suffering - as a photojournalist and a purveyor of human stories, it is important to "find some meaning therein," as Robert Stone said, and give a reason for why a story is told. This chapter also reminded me of a quote from Bill Cunningham New York, when the title characters says that if you look for beauty, you will find it. He's not referring to beauty in the most traditional sense, but to a shared experience, a moment that is captured and is complex, nuanced, and carefully observed. The same way, it's not possible to just find a subject, photograph it - capture what's on the surface and call it a story - the compassion and the understanding of the subject is what gives a story its meaning, and it cannot be achieved without paying careful attention.

THE MORAL POINT OF VIEW.

In the next chapter, Lamott writes about what it means to have a moral point of view as the driving force in your work. As a working writer or a photojournalist, one doesn't always choose the work that they do - most of the time its impossible to only do work that you care or feel passionate about. If you are in a position where the work that you do isn't founded in the principles that drive you as a person, it's crucial to be aware of that, and to express it.
When Lamott writes how these truths don't come in a single sentence, but are manifested in the whole piece (of writing), it's easy to draw a connection to a photographic essay or a story, in which a single photograph doesn't contain all the truth, but functions as a piece of a whole that represents a much greater truth.
Lamott's ultimate advice is to "write about things that are most important to you" - to find your passion, the things that you believe are true and right, and to pursue them. Using your empathy and compassion to uncover the nuances and the complexities of subjects will reveal the most complete and honest portrayal

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