Um motivo (um entre muitos) para ficar encantado com a fotografia de Alfred Stieglitz (English version at the end)

Sem dúvida, há (bem) mais de um motivo para admirar o trabalho de um dos maiores fotógrafos de todos os tempos, o americano Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946).

No entanto, quero escrever hoje apenas sobre um deles que voltou à minha mente e consideração ao ler um livro que comprei recentemente chamado “A prática da fotografia contemplativa (ver o mundo com novos olhos) escrito por Andy Karr e Michael Wood (Shambhala Publicações Inc.). Boulder, Colorado, EUA. 2011), que é um conceito criado por Stieglitz denominado ‘Equivalente (ou Equivalentes)’. Segundo os autores “na fotografia contemplativa a literalidade da câmera é usada como um espelho para refletir o seu (nosso) estado de espírito. Ela mostra quando você fotografou o que viu – o que realmente apareceu – e quando você fotografou o que imaginou”.

O mote do livro, aliás – como, aliás, o seu título permite deduzir – é tentar responder a várias questões relacionadas com a fotografia contemplativa e, para mim, a principal, que os próprios autores se questionam, sendo: ‘como o claro ver produz imagens claras?’ E então os autores focam as discussões no conceito de ‘Equivalente’ de Stieglitz, afirmando claramente que ‘visão clara e criatividade de seu ser básico se conectam diretamente’ e só então ‘você produz imagens que são os EQUIVALENTES do que você viu’. E continuam dizendo que ‘o que ressoou dentro de você na visão original ressoará na fotografia’.

Acho esse conceito de Stieglitz extremamente revelador na fotografia. Um artigo do Art Institute Chicago (The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, Stieglitz Series, Equivalents – stock.https: //archive.artic.edu/stieglitz/equivalents/#_ftnref1) diz que Stieglitz começou em 1922 a tirar fotos de nuvens inclinando seu mão a câmera em direção ao céu para produzir imagens estonteantes e abstratas de suas formas etéreas ‘. De acordo com essa mesma fonte, em um artigo no ano seguinte, Stieglitz escreve que essas obras representaram o ápice de tudo o que ele havia aprendido nos últimos 40 anos na fotografia: ‘Através das nuvens [eu queria] abandonar minha filosofia de vida – para mostrar que minhas fotos não eram devidas ao assunto – nem a árvores especiais, ou rostos, ou interiores, a privilégios especiais, as nuvens estavam lá para todos – ainda não havia impostos sobre elas – de graça ‘. Também é lido que o grande fotógrafo fez cerca de 350 estudos fotográficos de nuvens ao longo dos próximos 8 anos (Alfred Stieglitz, “How I Came to Photograph Clouds,” Amateur Photographer and Photography 56 (1923), reimpresso em Richard Whelan, ed., Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes, Aperture, 2000).



[Alfred Stieglitz, “How I Came to Photograph Clouds,” Amateur Photographer and Photography 56 (1923), reprinted in Richard Whelan, ed., Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes (Aperture, 2000), p. 237]

Voltando ao livro de Andy Karr e Michael Wood mencionado acima: os autores escrevem que a prática da fotografia contemplativa ocorre em três partes ou estágios, a saber: (1) ‘conectar-se com o flash da percepção’ (‘é um momento de ver que é unilateral, estável e livre de distração’); (2) ‘trabalhar com o discernimento visual’ (‘é a maneira como você mantém o estado de espírito contemplativo após o lampejo inicial de percepção’) e (3) ‘formando o equivalente do que vimos’ (‘é o nosso objetivo produzir um imagem que é comparável ao que percebemos – nada mais, nada menos ‘…’ para usar a câmera para criar o equivalente da percepção’).

Finalmente, é neste terceiro estágio da teoria de Karr e Wood que o conceito de ‘Equivalentes’ de Stieglitz entra em ação e traduz, para mim, toda a beleza (e complexidades) de fazer fotografias. Lembrando o que Stieglitz disse uma vez: ‘Através das nuvens [eu queria] colocar minha filosofia de vida – para mostrar que minhas fotografias não eram devidas ao assunto – nem a árvores especiais, ou rostos, ou interiores, a privilégios especiais, as nuvens estavam lá para todos – nenhum imposto ainda sobre elas – grátis’.

One reason (one of many) to be enchanted by Alfred Stieglitz’s photography

Without a doubt, there is more than one reason to admire the work of one of the greatest photographers of all time, the American Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946).

However, I want to write today just about one of them that came back to my mind and consideration by reading a book I bought these days called “The practice of contemplative photography (Seeing the world with fresh eyes) written by Andy Karr and Michael Wood (Shambhala Publications Inc. Boulder, Colorado, USA. 2011) which is a concept created by Stieglitz called ‘Equivalent (or Equivalents).’ According to the authors ‘in contemplative photography the camera’s literalness is used as a mirror to reflect your (our) state of mind. It shows when you shot what you saw – what actually appeared – and when you shot what you imagined’.

The motto of the book, by the way – as, by the way, its title allows one to deduce – is to try to answer several questions related to contemplative photography and, for me, the main one, which the authors question themselves, being: ‘how does clear seeing produce clear images?’ And then the authors focus discussions on Stieglitz’s concept of ‘Equivalent’ clearly stating that ‘clear seeing and creativity of your basic being connect directly’ and only then ‘you produce images that are the EQUIVALENTS of what you saw’. And they go on saying that ‘what resonated within you in the original seeing will resonate in the photograph’.

I find this concept of Stieglitz extremely revealing in photography. An article by the Art Institute Chicago (The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, Stieglitz Series, Equivalents -stock.https://archive.artic.edu/stieglitz/equivalents/#_ftnref1) reads that Stieglitz started in 1922 to take cloud photographs ’tilting his hand camera towards the sky to produce dizzying and abstract images of their ethereal forms’. According to this same source, in an article the following year, Stieglitz writes that these works represented the culmination of everything he had learned over the past 40 years in photography: ‘Through clouds [I wanted] to put down my philosophy of life—to show that my photographs were not due to subject matter—not to special trees, or faces, or interiors, to special privileges, clouds were there for everyone—no tax as yet on them—free’. It is also read that the great photographer made about 350 photographic studies of clouds over the next 8 years (Alfred Stieglitz, “How I Came to Photograph Clouds,” Amateur Photographer and Photography 56 (1923), reprinted in Richard Whelan, ed., Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes, Aperture, 2000).

Returning to the book by Andy Karr and Michael Wood mentioned above: the authors write that the practice of contemplative photography takes place in three parts or stages, namely: (1) ‘connecting with the flash of perception’ (‘is a moment of seeing that is one-pointed, stable, and free from distraction’); (2) ‘working with visual discernment’ (‘is the way you maintain the contemplative state of mind after initial fash of perception’) and (3) ‘forming the equivalent of what we have seen’ (‘is our aim to produce an image that is comparable to what we perceive – nothing more, nothing less’ … ‘to use the camera to create the equivalent of the perception’).

Finally, it is in this third stage of Karr and Wood’s theory that Stieglitz’s concept of ‘Equivalents’ comes into play and translates, for me, all the beauty (and complexities) of making photographs. Recalling what Stieglitz once said: ‘Through clouds [I wanted] to put down my philosophy of life—to show that my photographs were not due to subject matter—not to special trees, or faces, or interiors, to special privileges, clouds were there for everyone—no tax as yet on them—free’.




[Alfred Stieglitz, “How I Came to Photograph Clouds,” Amateur Photographer and Photography 56 (1923), reprinted in Richard Whelan, ed., Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes (Aperture, 2000), p. 237]

Published by Antonio Mozeto

I'm an amateur photographer based in the city of São Carlos, São Paulo state, SE Brazil. I used to make photographs since I was about 15-17 years old. My first camera was a Olympus Trip, an analogue camera. Many years after that I switched to several digital cameras. Presently I own a Nikon D500 with a small set of lenses and a Fujifilm X100T 23mm. A few years after my retirement as an university professor, after teaching Environmental Chemistry at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) for 45 years, I decided to invest money and time dedicating myself more seriously to photography. I´ve taken on-line courses as well as I´ve participated to various photography festival across Brazil. By far, my biggest interest is street photography. And in it, I'm interested in portraits, everyday street scenes and architecture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: