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John Palcewski's Journal

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Not Accidental, Not Random
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In creating a photographic image we confront an infinity of choices, and the selection of a subject is driven not just by a sense of aesthetics but by our subconscious. Sometimes I’m astonished by an image's underlying meaning, which I did not recognize when I pressed the shutter button. For instance, at a gallery showing of the work of the late Liselotte Wahl, an artist who lived here on Ischia, I casually snapped off a shot of two plexiglass display cases, one containing a small sculpture of boy’s head and the head of a woman in another. I chose this pair because the light was beautiful and I was drawn to the arrangement. Only later did I suddenly realize this image was autobiographical and had great emotional significance. A perfect metaphor of me, a little boy confined in one box, and my Mother in another, looking away.

A similar thing occurred recently at the conservatory in Lady Walton’s Garden. I was intrigued by the aluminum bust of Edith Sitwell, and I took great care to frame it and to balance flash and the ambient light. And just yesterday, looking through my photo files, I came across a portrait I made of my daughter, Lara, twenty years ago when our family was falling apart.

I’m starting to believe there are no accidents, no random events. Just a series of inexplicable events we do not understand, at least for the moment.