Measure of Emptiness

In August 1992, I traveled to Bali, Indonesia to study Balinese gamelan, religion, and art.  I was there for about 5 months, returning just before New Years.

Just after I returned, I took a week long workshop on photography taught by Frank Gohlke.  This workshop was great, and is part of how I became to be a photographer today.

Recently, I picked up a copy of Thoughts on Landscape, a selection of essays and interviews by Frank.  His first book, Measure of Emptiness, was close to completion when we first met in 1992.  I loved this work, and responded to so many things he had to say about making pictures.  I can’t tell a lie though, it’s been a quite while since I’ve considered Frank’s work; his was an early influence.

Thoughts on Landscape, however, has been a delight to read.  I want to share one passage in particular, from a statement he wrote in 1979:

Making pictures is a way of creating worlds within the frame that provide almost the same richness and pleasure as direct experience of the world – yet the world itself is never quite so clear as in a good photograph.  There is something peculiar about the way we attribute the clarity of some photographs to the world itself.  I try to reinforce that paradox by making photographs that convince the viewer that those revelations, that order, that potential for meaning, are coming from the world and not the photograph.

I think this is the kind of thoughtfulness that inspired me to become a photographer myself.

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2 thoughts on “Measure of Emptiness

  1. That’s pretty cool that you were able to take a workshop from Frank Gohlke himself. I saw an exhibit he is in this weekend at Phoenix Art Museum. Every time I see his work it makes me like him more and more. I should get that book though to get a better understanding of his work and himself.

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