A funny thing about the ten or twenty most favourite photo images I’ve made over the years: in the great majority of cases, they had to be coaxed out of lousy negatives. I don’t mean to say that these negs were usually a bit over- or underexposed, or their range of values too wide or too narrow to avoid some dodging or burning in, or that they presented any of the other normal difficulties to which photographers are susceptible when they go to work in their darkrooms, but that they were expressions of the most awful carelessness and ineptitude imaginable in the processing of film: textbook examples of what can go wrong and what not to do. I’m a techno-moron, and it shows in these negatives. Enough said about that for now.

 

So, I’d like to take up the subject of my favourite photograph, my most beloved one. If, as I have said, there are a group of ten or twenty for which I feel a special fondness, there exists, too, a lesser tier of two or three times that many that make me feel warm whenever I look at them. But, my #1 favourite is so far ahead of all the others in my affection that it is truly in a class of its own. In fact: it’s as if I had not taken this picture – there is a subtle distancing, a notion that I was part of the process, but not as the photographer.

 

A toddler stands shin-deep in a puddle of water. Its murky reflection extends downwards, terminated at the waist where the rim of the puddle meets the mud. The child’s pant-legs are wet and mucky while splotches of mud spatter its upper overalls. The photographer’s perspective is frontal (the phantom camera is along the child’s line of sight – we are in the child’s world). The only compromise to total symmetry in this image is seen in the child’s arms, one of which is at attention along its side, while the other, crooked at the elbow, holds an admonishing index finger to its silencing lips. The child is the embodiment of quiet stillness, apprehensive and reproving lest its messy play be exposed. “Shhhh!” can be heard, as if uttered. An incongruous element completes the image: encircling ripples radiate from the stone-still-postured child.

 

An elucidation of the spiritual and psychological influences of “my favourite photo” will follow in a day or two. For now, it must speak for itself … and, – should a viewer hazzard an interpretive value upon it – may it work it’s considerable wisdom.

 

(C) 2012 arne torneck all rights reserved

image arne torneck