Photo by Mandelbrot
One of the first pleasures of taking pictures is finding out what something looks like when it gets into a photograph. This is often what motivates young photographers, who are always surprised (sometimes delighted and sometimes horrified) by what they discover when their film is developed. This is a primitive kind of pleasure scorned by devotees of the Ansel Adams school who insist that “fine art” photographs be “previsualized” before the picture is taken. A previsualized photograph cannot be a surprise, because everything is known ahead of time.
I was in Victoria in November and it was dark by five-thirty and it felt lonely and strange at the bus stop across from the university bookstore. I had a tiny Olympus in my pocket and I pulled it out and held it as steady as I could at waist height and exposed a couple of frames without looking through the viewfinder. A week or so later when I developed the film, I discovered this scene, and it surprised me into a recollection of that moment at the bus stop, which I remembered to be not nearly as interesting as its appearance in the photograph: now it was a shimmering moment, pregnant with the future; and a dreary November evening at the bus stop had been rescued from oblivion.