a blog by knut skjærven

Leica, Or No Leica

How High The Sky?. © Knut Skjærven.

One thing has struck me. Every time I go shooting with a camera I have the feeling that I am executing phenomenology. Why is this? Are there any reasons why I should have such an idea?

I think there is, and I will make a note about it here.

Phenomenology teaches you to study the things themselves. The way you can experience them in the natural attitude doing day to day chores. Beyond that, phenomenology also tells you to wait a second, to freeze the situation, and to study it further. To bring out the heart of the matter.

Phenomenology has special words for these activities. They call it bracketing and phenomenological reduction. Bracketing is the freezing of a situation. Reduction is studying it in detail to bring out the general structures of phenomena. Phenomenology simply means to study, to talk about, or to argue for that which can be experienced. And how it is experienced. As man’s knowledge is confined to that which can be experienced, phenomenology is a basic discipline. A first science.

Doing phenomenology is very similar to what I do with my camera. Bringing my camera with an intention to take a picture, already frames the moment in terms of having that and that intention. When I press the release button, I actually freeze the moment that I intend, or don’t intend, to photograph.

Having done my homework I know what structures a phenomenological reduction brings with it. Every single picture I take is a window to all structures of all experiences. Every time I take a picture I am, in terms of phenomenology, half way there. I do not have to think about bracketing, or freezing, the natural attitude to understand it better. The camera does that for me.

That is what you see reflected in my photographs. That is the type of pictures that I enjoy taking. Take a look at the one above. Every phenomenological dimension you can ever think of, is in there. You only need to unfold them. Here are 425 more photographs you are welcome to look at.

That’s all, ladies and gentlemen. Think about it. Leica, or no Leica.

So high the sky.

The picture is shot with a Leica X1, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, November 7, 2010.
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