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Monday, September 30, 2013

From the Mind or from the Heart?

In the upcoming issue of Stone Voices—the winter 2013 issue—we will feature the work of photographer Ralph Hassenpflug. Since he has a studio in my town and lives not too far away, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ralph. His work is quite remarkable. No matter the subject, his photographs exhibit strength and tenderness, triumph and struggle. His photographs are like windows that allow you to peer into the depths of human experience.

For every artist whose work we feature, we review a biography and a statement about his or her work, both provided by the artist. Like many artists, Ralph doesn’t like to apply words to his work, but what he ended up writing showed truth and clear insight into his work. He captured it, I think, in this one sentence: I don’t think my photographs; I feel my photographs.

Christine Cote, from the series Beyond.
This sentence made me pause to think about my own work as a photographer. Do I feel my photographs or do I think them? What leads me to make pictures from certain subjects and not others, my mind or my heart? What drives me to snap a picture, my mind or my heart? What guides me during post-production, my mind or my heart? While pondering these questions, I scanned my body of work in my mind. Indeed, some come from thought, some from heart. The “better” photographs, I think, are the ones that come from my heart. Somehow, they are longer-lasting. I don’t tire of them. There is always something in them that holds my attention . . . something I feel when I look at them.



I don’t yet fully understand what all of this means, but it is something to be mindful of when I make pictures and look at the work of other artists. Is it from the mind or the heart?

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