The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Thursday, May 24, 2001

Trays Full Of Teardrops

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: We were talking about photography, my friend and I, and he said he'd read something some prestigious photographer had said. Something like "It's good to know what kind of photograph you want to take before you take it." My philosophy is quite different. I take photographs because I want to see what's in the shadows. I want to see through the commonplace, the everyday, and find the soul and the spirit. Most of the time, I have no idea what I'm going to photograph, or what kind of photograph I want to take, other than that I want to see something I haven't seen before. Or I want to see things in a way I haven't seen them before, in ways other than how they appear in real life. I'm not trying to document reality; I'm looking for the truth reality sometimes hides. Some of my favorite photographs are almost accidents — I take chances in the hope of capturing some of the elusive essence. All my life I've looked at photographs and moving pictures, absorbing, learning how to see; I've been taking photographs since I was in grade school. I'd like to take pictures that are almost not photographs but abstractions, images that suggest feelings. A friend said my photographs (you'll find some in the "Photograph" section of look "like they were developed in trays full of teardrops." That's it, exactly. Words about photographs. What's the point? you might wonder. Either the photograph communicates, or it doesn't. Well, yes and no. Context is important. Knowing that a photograph was taken three weeks ago, not 30 years ago, could be meaningful. It doesn't make it a better photograph, but it does affect your perception. Anyway, I take photographs and I write. I write and I take photographs. Sometimes I take photographs of things I write about, or write about things I took photographs of — really, the line between image and words is blurry. Sometimes there is no line. It's all the same. I'm trying to tell myself a story, or show myself a story, or break through the preconceptions so that what I see is new again, and fresh. Trying to see the world without the baggage we carry after years of living, or to bring all those years to the photograph, to the way you see it, to the words on the page. When it all works, it takes me someplace I haven't exactly been before. You can come along if you'd like. "I write to remember" goes an At the Drive-In song. I do that sometimes. I also write to learn what I think, and to think of things that I haven't thought of before, or thought of in a particular way before. You look at the photograph, and you feel something. You want something to happen when a person looks at your art. You want it to change them. I like to think that my friend looked at my photographs, and then for the first time thought they look "like they were developed in trays full of teardrops." If something I did inspired that line, wow!

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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