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Frank Horvat: Light


Frank Horvat

Photography, as everyone knows, means “writing with light.” What Niépce and Daguerre started out doing almost two centuries ago, and what a billion people today do with their mobile phones.
But as for myself, I’m almost more sensitive to light than to what it illuminates. To the point that I almost avoid using a flash, and I often will refuse to shoot an interesting subject if the lighting doesn’t bring it to the fore.
Without question, a good photograph is not merely a matter of light, but also (and especially) of time. Or rather, stopping time. Like Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment. But light is all the more important because it is fleeting.
This is why the midday sun makes me want to take fewer pictures than the last rays of twilight, or the light and shadows filtered through leaves, or how the light changes indoors throughout the day.
The forerunners of photography, as I see it, aren’t the Florentine painters of the Quattrocento, with their perspective and camera obscura, but Caravaggio, with his almost nighttime lighting. And Rembrandt with his self-portrait at 22, where a shadow, apparently accidental, covers half of his face. As if to say: only my left cheek and the tip of my nose, which I’m willing to show you in detail, must speak for the whole.

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