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Meister Elkhardt Archives - St. Stephen's University

Positive Encounters Through Negative Space

By | 2014, Europe | No Comments

Last year I purchased a film camera in an attempt to expand my hobby of photography and to become intentional about the images I capture on film. Throughout this year I have learnt much about the technical side of photography such as composition and balance, shutter speed and rule of thirds while also learning about my unique style coming through each roll of film. This trip was meant to use those technical skills to explore the underlying emotion of photographs.

My game plan has been to break up my 3 rolls of film between the 9 countries we are visiting resulting in only 8 exposures per country. I have found this approach to be quite frustrating at times. There is so much to see, so much to capture in a tangible memory, how do I possibly choose what is worth my precious negative space?! I don’t want to be just another tourist snapping photos of Pont Du Gard or the statue depicting the Rape of the Sabines. Instead, I want to capture the emotion behind what I am seeing, what I am experiencing. A quote I found in a bookstore in Florence describes my intention perfectly,

“In my photography I have tried to press what I aim to express in all that I do. The photo should hint at things beyond its actual contents the divine reason, as Meister Elkhardt would say, the beauty of an “ugly” face. The essence of things… I want the dignity and the hope that lies beneath to shine through in even the most inconspicuous, the most ordinary, the most humble subjects.” -Ellen Auerbach, 1985

Although my intentional photography seems good in theory I never know what the actual photo will look like until it gets developed. This takes patience and accepting the unknown results of new techniques. This has forced me to slow down even more on my journey through Europe, desiring to capture that perfect expression. What is it about the architectural digging site at the Matisse museum that moves me? What angle do I capture these ancient Florentine cobblestones where so many influential people have walked down? I have thought about the photos I taken from a variety of angles before I even open the shutter and still my hands hesitates, consciously choosing not to burn this image on the negative roll. Why did I not take a photo of the trees in Barcelona that inspired Gaudi in his art? I’m still figuring it out. M.