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"Photography is wandering in the Universe by yourself", Sergio Larraine

Following is a beautiful letter written by Sergio Larrain in 1982 to his nephew, who had previously asked Larrain where to begin to become a photographer.

Par125219 by myraincheck

First and foremost, you have to have a camera that fits you well, one that you like, because it’s about feeling comfortable with what you have in your hands: the equipment is key to any profession, and it should have nothing more than the strictly necessary features. Secondly, get yourself an enlarger, the easiest and most useful you can find (the smallest manufactured by LEITZ is the best for the 35mm format, it will last your whole lifetime).

The game is going on an adventure, like a sailor boat: drop the sails. Go to Valparaiso or Chiloè, be in the street all day long, wander and wander in unknown places, sit under a tree when you’re tired, buy a banana or some bread and get on the first train, go wherever you like, and look, draw a bit, and look. Get away from the things you know, get closer to those you don’t know, go from one place to the other, places you like. Then, you’ll start finding things, images will be forming into your head, consider them as apparitions.

Par102871 by myraincheck

When you will be back home, develop, print and start looking at what you fished, all of your fishes, print them in the size of a postcard and tape them to a wall, and look at them. Then, start playing around with the L, cropping and framing, thus you will learn about composition and geometry. Enlarge what you framed and leave it on the wall. By looking, you will learn to see. When you are certain that a photograph is not good, throw it in the bin. Tape the best ones higher on the wall, and eventually look at those only (keeping the not-so-good one gets you used to not-so-goodness). Only save the good ones, throw everything else away, because the psyche carries everything one keeps.

Then do some exercise, use your time to do other things, and don’t worry about it. Start studying the work of others and looking for something good in whatever comes into your hands: books, magazines, etc. and keep the best ones, and cut them out if you can, keep the good things and tape them to the wall next to yours, and if you can’t cut them out, open the book or magazine at the good pages and leave it open. Leave it there for weeks, months, until it speaks to you: it takes time to see, but the secret will slowly reveal itself, and eventually you will see what is good and the essence of everything.

Par78661 by myraincheck

Go on with your life, draw a bit, take a walk, but don’t force yourself to taking photographs: this kills the poetry, the life in it gets sick. It would be like forcing love or a friendship: you can’t do it. Then you can take a new journey: to Porto Aguire, you can ride down the Baker to the storms in Aysén; Valparaiso is always beautiful, it’s getting lost in the magic, getting lost for days up and down its slopes and streets, sleeping in a sleeping bag, so much soaked in reality – like a swimmer in the water – that nothing distracts you, nothing conventional.

Let your feet guide you, slowly, as if you were cured by the pleasure of looking, humming, and what you will see you will start photographing more carefully, and you will learn about composition and framing, you will do it with your camera, and thus your cart will fill with fishes, and you will go back home. Learn about focus, aperture, close-ups, saturation, shutter speed, ecc. Learn how to play with your camera and its possibilities, and collect poetry (yours and that of others), keep everything good you can find, even that done by others. Make a collection of good things: like a small museum in a folder.

Par56955 by myraincheck

Photograph the way you like it. Don’t believe in nothing but your taste, you are life and it’s life that chooses.
Don’t look at what you don’t like, there’s no need to. You are the only criterion, but also consider everything else. Keep learning. When you will have some good photos, enlarge them, make a small exhibition or put them in a book, have it bound. Showing your photographs will make you realize what they are, you will understand only when you will see them in front of others. Making an exhibition is giving something, like giving food, it’s good that others are shown something down with work and pleasure. It’s not bragging, it’s good to you, it’s good to everybody and it’s good for you because it gives you feedback.

Par21397 by myraincheck

Good, that’s enough to start. It’s about vagabonding much, sitting down a tree anywhere. It’s wandering in the universe by yourself: thus you will start again looking. The conventional world puts a veil over your eyes, it’s a matter of taking it off during the period of photography.

Par21393 by myraincheck  

What is Photography for YOU? What do you think of these words?

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djailledie Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Very wise words. I should revisit my 21 years old Valparaiso slides :D
JACAC Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2013
NunoFigueira Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013
Marvelous letter, wise words....for me photography is breathe and feel alive, when i photograph i can feel the world and the people in it. It's an enormous pleasure for me....thx for the journal and time dedicate to street photography :kiss:
s-a-n-i-m Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
IrynaFedorovska Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you for your journals Mary! I've learned a lot from you!
Youkokanna Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Wow this was so inspiring. I'm a photographer no way  a pro but I'm learning as much as I can and this totally inspired me to go out and just enjoy life, and help how I choose my photos
miontre Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Great words. :heart: I agree.

I have a photography book and it encourages you not to take photos just for the sake of taking photos.
A lot of people take snapshots of everything they see, because they "might as well" and because they "might get something good". For me, I just can't feel bothered taking photos of things which don't captivate me. Sometimes when I take photos out with friends, they come back with loads of photos, and I come back with hardly anything; and I feel like I wasted my opportunity. However, I was really pleased to read in the book that there's no point trying to take a photo of something because you might get a good one, when you know in advance you're not going to get a good one. :D
StamatisGR Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013   Photographer
The sentences in bold are wise words!
Douglas85 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Nice photos to consider. Please visit my humble page all...  :)
stu-arts Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Professional General Artist
This is the only thing I have ever faved ( I prefer to comment about what I like and don't, I find faves without comment is a little like theft!)
However, this is beautiful and very compelling stuff and should be considered by all photographers, new and old.

Thank you so much for sharing
BoomLuma Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
This... this is beautiful.
arslanalp Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
thank you for sharing

DemonMathiel Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013   Photographer
Great journal :thumbsup:
fulltimenovice Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013
Incredible words, applicable to so much more than just photography! Beautifully said, with so much gentle truth. Thank you for sharing!

Vermontster Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you for sharing this Mary!:hug: In this letter I have found the words to describe almost exactly what I feel and practice on those days / trips when I am unencumbered by time or other responsibilities. Even the mention of the "sleeping bag" strikes home, as this is my accommodation when I venture farther afield to places like New York, Philadelphia, and beyond. Larrain says "The conventional world puts a veil over your eyes, it’s a matter of taking it off during the period of photography". I think this may explain a phenomenon that I experience when I first start one of my adventures. At the start I often find it difficult to focus, I am easily distracted, I miss things. My shooting skills are off, and I am uneasy. Gradually things become interesting and funny, I start to see things as I did when I was a child. Somehow I think less about taking pictures, but that is when I do my best.
 I don't know yet exactly what photography is, or will be for me. I do know that this whole process is meditative and healing, right now that is enough.  :D
e-l-a-n-i Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013
Beautiful journal, wise words, thank you Mary!
Photography for me is a dialogue with myself. An attempt to understand myself and the world around me. :)
arslanalp Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Batsceba Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013   Photographer
very pretty, thank you for having shared. I just saw a documentary on him, coincidences!
I think that world is changed and also contribution of photography, but in a sense, these reflections are still valid: live, watch, take what you like. learn and give you a comparison to understand yourself and others better.
it is not easy to talk about photography, writing, expression and even testimony. journalism, art? we are living in a time of great confusion, we are living in "future" now. I think the best thing is to observe to understanding the signals and always be responsible.

for me?  I write stories in images and tell visions in words ...  "photos as fractions of thinking" it's one of my mottos :)
Markotxe Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
ces photos sont du grand art
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