In the final quarter of the 19th Century, photography entered its adolescence as impressionism flourished in the world of painting. Painters in general, and impressionists in particular, took a dim view of photography. As Eadweard Muybridge deployed multiple cameras and high-speed shutters to capture ever briefer fractions of time on film, painters argued that by stopping time, photography told lies. Time does not stop, and therefore an impressionistic painting produces a more truthful representation of nature than does a photograph.
For the last few weeks, I’ve had no luck convincing myself to photograph birds in the backyard – previously one of my favorite activities. I watch the hummingbirds flitting about, taunting me, and think, “The world does not need yet another photograph of a hummingbird at a flower.”
But what do I need? I dragged my camera into the backyard this afternoon and fired off some pictures of a hummingbird. For some reason, this one is the only image that resonated with me. It defies almost everything I’ve learned about photography. I cannot explain it. I just like it. Somehow, more than any of the hundreds of frozen-in-time hummingbird images I’ve captured, this one feels more true.