Something about John Berger‘s quote about “[w]hat makes photography a strange invention” really appeals to me. He apparently made this remark in response to Susan Sontag’s book, “On Photography”:
What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.
PhotoQuotes has a slightly different version of Berger’s quote:
What makes photography a strange invention – with unforeseeable consequences – is that its primary raw materials are light and time.
The Art of Creative Photography has a short piece about Berger and his perspective on photography along with links to parts of a TV documentary Berger participated in. I haven’t watched the series yet but it looks fascinating.
I don’t think I heard of John Berger before today and that is a pity. I noticed that he passed away yesterday at the age of 90. The Guardian paid tribute to his work late yesterday:
Susan Sontag once described Berger as peerless in his ability to make “attentiveness to the sensual world” meet “imperatives of conscience”. Jarvis Cocker, to mark a recent book of essays about Berger, said: “There are a few authors that can change the way you look at the world through their writing and John Berger is one of them.”
All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this -as in other ways- they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. Because each one of us forgets different things, a photo more than a painting may change its meaning according to who is looking at it.
Listener, grinder of lenses, poet, painter, seer. My Guide. Philosopher. Friend. John Berger left us this morning. Now you are everywhere.
— Simon McBurney (@SimonMcBurney) January 2, 2017