Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Quick-Eyed Love: Photography and Memory

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Quick-Eyed Love: Photography and Memory

Article excerpt

Quick-Eyed Love: Photography and Memory, by Susan Garrett. SMU, November 2005. $22.50

Imagine you're behind a camera taking a picture. You're drawn to your subject-an empty field, a bridge in the mist, someone waiting for a bus-but you don't quite know why. "Beauty in the ordinary," as Susan Garrett writes, "beauty in what is there." You focus the lens, release the shutter, develop the film, await the print. Only after it emerges from the fixer, when it comes to life in the darkroom, do you see what's framed there-what you've captured-and it isn't always what you thought you'd seen. For one thing, it's just a moment-"a minute truth," to use Garrett's words. But she also writes, "The wonderful thing about photography is that it can be true and symbolic at the same time. The human figure is completely alone, one of a kind, and at the same time, Everyman. A representation that is not."

The experience of reading Garrett's book is a little like waiting for that anticipated image to appear in the tray of developer and ending up somewhere else altogether. It's not only a personal memoir that explores the struggles (and triumphs) of her mother, a young woman plying her trade as a photographer in Philadelphia in the 305 and 405, and doing so as a single parent. It's also a history of photography and a who's who of the photographers of the time-Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Stieglitz, Lewis Hine, Georgia O'Keefe, to name a few-as well as an homage to those lesser known. …

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