I see that beautiful spirit Floating there with the darkness
Unique in all the Universe
Not appeared accidentally Not created deliberately It… simply… just… happened
I made this picture in 1994 as a student at OIP&T (The Ohio Institute of Photography & Technology) in Dayton, OH. It was my first attempt at using a view camera, 4x5. This was before the digital revolution really took hold. I was 18 years old, full of ambition, optimism and eager to learn photography very well. Finally getting my hands on a view camera really did fill me with joy. I sort of knew what I was doing but not from experience, only from reading about large format photography on my own and ruminating on the principles. This image wasn’t even the product of an assignment. The moment I was granted lab privileges, I marched my little ass into that studio and made this image.
I still love this picture so much. I didn’t consider myself an animist at the time, that word hadn’t even entered my purview. But I was an animist. I still am. Seeing light. Working with darkness. Photographing Spirit. I didn’t know it in 1994 but this image would become my own personal emblem for my worldview.
Black Square XI,” 2012. In captivity, many birds develop Feather Destructive Behavior as a result of conditions including lack of psychological and emotional stimulation, stress, lack of companionship, and limited freedom. Amiga is a blue-and-gold macaw suffering from this condition. Image created using large-format view camera with Phase-One digital back.
Photograph by Taryn Simon, whose work appears in “From Darkroom to Daylight,” by Harvey Wang, edited by Amy Brost and Edmund Carson, out this month from Daylight Books:
Film in many ways allowed bad taste or bad decisions to still look good, because it had a forgiving and beautiful baseline. In digital, bad taste or bad decisions are glaring and rampant.