People who photograph not with art or a commercial purpose in mind do so in a very free way: they are unburdened by rules and expectations of greatness and just go for it. Especially in the case of family photos the result is often a feeling of liveliness and if we’re lucky, sometimes something more significant is unwittingly revealed too. Family pictures taken by my mum often carry dark undertones of the family dynamics in them as well, an anxious expression, a bullish stance or a grim posture in front of the camera barely concealing a temper tantrum in the making.
Of course this naive approach to photography comes with a multitude of technical flaws that the more trained eye quickly picks up upon, sometimes these technical issues take away from a photo, sometimes they add to it, it depends on your personal preferences.
Once people become more serious about photography they fall in love with controlling their outcomes. The more they learn to stage and manipulate their pictures and render them “perfect” the more they dismiss that early devil-may-care approach to taking pictures. In fact, many people are impressed with the idea of a “perfect shot” which presumably is the one where an ideal subject comes together with technical flawlessness that will then go on to stand out of their body or work forever.
When looking at photos myself, I’m much less interested in someone’s idea of a perfectly controlled shot, I just want to see what the photographer wanted me to see. And I want to know that they cared about what it was that they took a photo of and that it had meaning to them. There is no need to spell those intentions out to the last degree, say by means of a lot of editing and in-your-face composing. There still needs to be some room for my own perceptions to move and breathe. Too much control at the expense of sincerity literally strangles the life out of photos.
In my opinion, there needs to be a point where many photographers have to learn again to take a step back and give the importance back to their subjects rather than themselves if they want to make an impact.
The photos I picked by Lucian demonstrate that very beautifully to me. These are pictures that were taken from the heart. There’s nothing too elaborate about them, yet there’s a richness and beauty and a slight feeling of sadness that I can instantly understand on a very basic level. These pictures don’t try to impress, they show what was there and are very strong for it. There isn’t much that is getting in the way between the onlooker and the subject and I don’t have to peel away layers of genre markers and photoshop interfering to get to the soul of them.
Lucian also left them looking a little unresolved, there is a feeling of mystery and we don’t know everything that is going on. The children stand as much for themselves as individuals at that time in that place, as they stand for every child and ourselves when we were little.
And that is why I love these photos. They are not perfect and that is why they are good.