Fermi National Laboratory

Chicago-Diverse Architectural Fragments

Algimantas Kezys

Artist Statement

I believe the camera is a mechanical tool for communication between individuals. The process of photographic communication begins with the photographer's inner self. It continues through the mechanics of photography, which act as transmitters of his thoughts, feelings and vision to another individual.

The photographer's inner eye has as much to do with a photograph that communicates, as his other eye which actually looks through the viewfinder. Photography is not what is important. What is important is the fact that you see and that you make others see by means of your photographs.

All this proves to me, that there are not different kinds of photography, but that there are different ways of seeing and feeling about the world, which in turn produce "kinds" in the photographic medium. And so, a personal style in photography is possible despite the inherent objectivity of the medium. But the momentum for it must generate from within. Personal style cannot be imposed. It can probably be cultivated, striven for and finally achieved. But this blueprint must be present within the confines of one's own mental setup. The secret of developing a personal style in photography is a matter of discovering oneself.

Photography as a technique offers a number of possible ways of expressing one's thoughts and feelings on paper. A photographer has to discover which of the ways is best for him. There are, for instance, experimenters who create images primarily in the dark room. The creative moment for them is after, not before, the negative had been made. They are not just printers from existing negatives but creators of entirely new images. They are not takers but makers of pictures. I do not think anybody should dispute the validity of this approach to photography. The process is a valid one. It has proved itself valid in a number of cases. But again the validity here depends on faithfulness to one's own creative setup. I may produce only ordinary negatives, but if I begin to get ideas how to transform them into extraordinary images after they have been taken, so much the better. Then I should consider the post-negative stage as my most sacred moment because it is here that the inspiration takes over.

On the other hand there are those who believe that good pictures must start with an idea. These are the pre-visualization pictures people who produce marvelous photographs on their drawing boards. The actual shooting of the picture and making the print is nothing more than a technical execution of a previously thought-out plan. They know exactly how the picture ought to come out even before they load their camera with film. This is their moment of glory and they should recognize it as such.

Neither of these two approaches to photography is for me. I have discovered that my pre-visualization powers are completely dormant and that my post-visualization dexterity is nonexistent. I can't be either an art director who tells photographers or himself what to shoot, nor a lab technician who produces marvels even from the most ordinary negative material.

From my own observation of myself I know that my "moment of glory" is the moment of seeing and discovering. For me this is the crucial point at which pictures are made or unmade. I am a single picture photographer. Form attracts me more than content. Content plays a secondary role. It does not matter to me whether the picture is of a man, or of a bird, or of a rock. Each subject gets equal attention and is equally exciting if it happens to be in a meaningful form. A disadvantage? Yes. A danger? And possibly a trap. But one should never be jealous in the race of the arts. The world is so full of beauty and meaning that there is enough of it for everybody - to explore, to relish and to transform, each in his own way. My way is that of a photographer who gets excited (in a tourist fashion) by sunsets, shadows, reflections, and sometimes by faces. There is nothing to prove, nothing to boast about, except the plain fact that a spark of beauty has been found in some remote corner of the globe.

Algimantas Kezys

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Chyrsler Building


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