Thomas Griesel Photography

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  The first time I was in a darkroom and saw an image appear on a piece of paper in a developing tray confirmed something I felt since I was very young. Creating a photograph is an awesome gift and there is a god like power in being able to forever capture a fleeting moment in time, a scene that will remain constant a beautiful face which will never grow old , a gathering of friends or family where everyone will remain integral to the scene and part of my life forever.

  Photography is indeed magic, but photography and its magic contain an inherent contradiction. What we see in a photograph is what we celebrate, that fraction of a second the "decisive moment" as Cartier-Bresson called it. But the image is also a harbinger of what is to come as well as the accumulation of past moments leading to the "decisive" one. The beautiful sunset is a tribute to natural wonders but our good feeling may be in the sense of accomplishment for the day just passed. A day completed, a gift of time spent performing a task successfully or just a long day at leisure, but the image also heralds the darkness of night and the fears and anxiety of the next day.

  I remember the power I felt when I was given my first camera, free to see and create visual impressions of my world. My first pictures were very traditional, images "worthy" of recording, the special moments, family vacations, holidays, milestones deserving of documentation along with the more mundane but equally worthy: friends, school activities, and our pets.

  In time I was drawn to less worthy images, the unfamiliar and was being asked more often "why did you take a picture of that" it might be a photo of a train track, an old vending machine, or even a stranger. I believe I was learning to distinguish between the sublime and the perverse and understand the razor thin edge separating them.

  My camera emboldens me, allows me to talk to strangers and compels me to travel down paths and seek out locations to document and preserve. I wrestle with the role of the photographer, participant or voyeur; I have been both. I’ve shot with long lenses when my subjects are unaware of me and used short lenses being cognizant of my subjects performing for the camera. A frequently heard cliché is that a photograph has caught some essential truth I am baffled by that idea. While it is arguably true the camera does not lie it is dogmatic and devious in its ability to manipulate emotions and shape our perception of our individual and collective values. A photograph should be viewed with an open mind, from whatever camera it originated, a throwaway, an 8 x 10 view or a über pixel digital but to be wary of drawing some larger conclusion from it, which I believe says more about the viewer’s need to impose some sense of order and predictability in a world that offers little of either.

With that said enjoy this glimpse into my world.

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