"The contemplation of things as they are without substitution or imposture without error or confusion is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention."
Dorothea Lange hung this quote from Francis Bacon outside her darkroom. It exemplifies her approach to the art of photography. It is a fancier way of describing one my own tenets, Play it as it lays.
I was reminded of Bacon's quote and its relation to Lange as I was editing this day's meager shoot. It wasn't really a shooting day; I was killing time at the sculpture garden at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, waiting to find out the results of a disciplinary meeting my son was enduring with the student integrity bureaucrats at Creighton University. My mind wasn't very receptive to the artworks, but this praying mantis on the placard for Oedipus at Colonnus stopped me in my tracks -- stopped me in a way that the arty "whole harvest of invention" could not.
That's why I love photography: to be immersed in the experience of seeing. I lifted my camera to take this shot and in that instant I experienced multiple levels of seeing and the significance of what I was seeing: The live, soft insect resting on the hard man-made placard, the idea of prayer on the placard that resembles a tombstone, the tiny penis on the statue (that you can't see in the photograph) and the female mantis's consumption of the male after mating, and a sort of glimpse of The World Without Us.
In the play Oedipus at Colonnus, an old and blind Oedipus says, "It is I who have come here, friends. I whose ears are his eyes, as they say about the blind!"
For me, it is I whose eyes are his ears.