All of photography is a flattening, and that’s probably true of all memory, perception and expression. I lack a lot of skill in photography — I keep my camera on its auto settings. Though I have professional-grade photo manipulation skills and software, I don’t even crop my snapshots, adjust levels, or even brighten/darken, even in the worst cases. They are what I saw or they are deleted.
I wish I could say that I do this as a way of artistically confining my expression, like a poet choosing meter or a musician using only a single octave and key. I just haven’t learned to see yet. At least, I haven’t learned to see well enough to move on to some other level of expression or moment.
I usually photograph flat surfaces, stuff that is already so close to 2D that I needn’t worry at all about how its light will collapse onto the sensor. I see it, I point the camera at it, and I push a button knowing now that about half the time I get what I see on a tidy SD card. When I started that was less than once in a hundred photo. Yay me!
I’m moving on a bit, but I don’t like it. I love this photo, though. It’s a wall, freshly-painted blue, meeting a sidewalk that was poorly masked. It flattened perfectly, deceptively simply. Only by looking closer is the other dimension apparent. On that unseasonably cold morning, with a head full of hate and a yawning spirit, that is what this wall gave me. A fantastic unfolding world, comforting in its smooth complexity.