About Edward J. Gleason and his love of photography.
During my first sabbatical — in Ireland, in 1985, where I spent most of my time doing research on several Irish poets — I also promised myself to take an abundance of photographs of this wonderful country, not only scenic images but photos that captured the life of the Irish people behind the facade of what is presented to tourists.
On a backstreet in the Co. Cork village of Kinsale one March afternoon, I came upon a photographer’s shop whose images of town and countryside precisely reflected what I had wished to capture. What was most appealing about the portfolio of that photographer — Giles Normand — was that all of his images were rendered in black and white. Giles was extremely generous on that occasion in sharing with me his history as a photographer and as a businessman in that field.
From that point on, although I was teaching full-time, I never traveled without the dual purpose of expanding my academic specialties and improving my artistic vision as a photographer.
Poets — to vastly oversimplify what they do — work reductively, even when the idea they want to express is both expansive and complex. The “trick” is to reference the particular in order to hint at or suggest that broader idea. An incident in a schoolyard, for example, can be described succinctly and without commentary; but the specifics of the description might certainly suggest that the poet wants us to pay attention to (again for example) how certain children’s behaviors can mirror larger problems within the society.
At best, the poet lets the reader infer from a simple situation captured what larger issue the poet wishes to address. In the best of poetic dynamics, the poet’s frugal but fresh language will be sufficient to fire the deductive powers of the reader, and, thus, a message will have been communicated. The philosophy of fine art photographers — most notably the best of the “street photographers” from the middle of the 19th century on down to the present — reflects a similar desire to let the product of his craft — the photograph — hint at a message or story beyond itself.
The French master photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson explained that, in addition to recognizing how line, light and shadow are necessary components of a “good” image, the photographer must be ready at all times to sense that a “decisive moment” is at hand, that point at which a photograph — like a poem in that other medium — can seem simple, and yet explode with meaning.
In addition to street photography, I enjoy all of the forms of photography — landscape, portrait, product, video, family. I hope you will be prompted to look at the images that comprise the sections of this website. I encourage comments and criticism. I can be reached at my current email address: email@example.com.