Simply . . .

Frederic Chopin said, “Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is the simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” In photography, I have been going backwards lately. Having developed my passion for photography over the past six or seven years, I “grew up” in the digital age. But, the more I move from the technical to the artistic, the more drawn I feel to things of the past.

The photograph above was taken with a $65 East German camera made in the 1950’s. I picked it up at a used camera shop in Prague last week. While the benefits of the digital age are numerous and well documented, there still exists an indescribable allure to film photographs. This pull has led me to ask many questions lately and examine much about life. What is it about the light, the grain, the simplicity of a photograph taken with a film camera that appeals to me and others? The same can be asked of music. While digitally mastered music is undeniably more “flawless” than vinyl, why are young people today discovering the simple pleasure of 33 rpm disks and turntables?

I believe it has something to do with how complicated all our lives have become with smartphones, TVs that make decisions and recommendations, and other technology that practically feels and thinks for us. It brings us back to Chopin’s observation that simplicity is the final achievement. When we look at a photograph or listen to a song, we don’t want someone or something else to feel for us. We want that simple pleasure for ourselves. The more complicated and complex life becomes, the more we humans crave and need simplicity. For me, loading a roll of film into a simple, 65 year old camera and wandering the busy city filled with the most advanced technology on earth is incredibly relaxing and fulfilling. Hearing the shutter fire on the old camera feels almost elegant in its simplicity. Leonardo da Vinci may have been onto something when he said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

One thought on “Simply . . .”

  1. Profound and veritable words Mark! There is such beauty and honesty in simplicity.

    As Isaac Newton so aptly put it, “Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”

    And isn’t truth what we all ultimately seek? Another great post. Keep ’em coming!


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