This Is Just To Say… The Poetry of Film

JUST a handful of words, laid out carefully over a few, innocent lines, paint a scene as vivid as any picture. Without punctuation, without ostentatious language (only two words contain more than two syllables), the rhythm of  William Carlos Williams’ This Is Just To Say (above) is yet dictated, the sense of a blissful summer invoked and the words so deliciously round they fill the mouth as satisfyingly as his purple fruits. To quote US photographer and critic, Minor White, “photography is a language more universal than words”. Poetry elevates even the simplest of language. And, if photography is language, then for me film photography is poetry. Photography quite literally speaks to us in a way more fundamental than we give it credit for in this fast paced world of instant imagery and instant gratification. We take it for granted, and images are thrown around like cheap words. But film? Film is art. Film dictates a different pace. Film fills each scene like so many blissful summers of childhood. Film speaks with such nuance that it sees the world and, indeed, shows the world from a different viewpoint. That, of course, sounds a little like hyperbole and a lot like my opinion. But take a look at the slides below and the images across the gallery. Better yet, take a look at the masters of analogue; Ansel Adams, Robert Capa, and Vivian Maier, to name just a few. Go on, I’ll wait.  See what I mean? How beautiful is Cameron’s portrait of a wild-haired Alfred Lord Tennyson, an image that tells us as much about the man as his famed lines of poetry? How much depth and nuance is there to be heard in Adams’ The Tetons and the Snake River? Perhaps it’s the natural process, the way light lands on a strip of emulsion; but it’s also its fallibility, the imperfections of the process that reflect something much more human - soul. A photographer sees and reflects. But I am always surprised by what an image seems to say as the negative first hangs up to dry and then appears in its finished form; forming visual rhythms and riffing rhymes as they bare that inner light. Be it wedding, family, portraits, even the brutal reality of war photography, film is timeless, it is real, and it knows its own voice. And that, to me, is pure poetry. 

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