Collection spotlights photojournalist Ed Kashi’s ‘spontaneous “uncomposition”’
Abandoned Moments: A Love Letter to Photography
By Ed Kashi
136 pages, 42 color, 26 b/w photographs
$58. Heidelberg: Kehrer, 2021.
By Stephen Wolgast
Taking pictures by intuition sounds mystical. How can you make photographs without thinking about composition, focus and adjusting the exposure?
Maybe after enough missteps — the back-focused portrait, an underexposed face, the wrong choice of lens — you can make the right decisions without thinking about them. Think of musicians who learn to adjust for a wrong note and a basketball player who seems to know where the ball is going before the pass is made.
Some photojournalists learn the same kind of automatic reaction. Ed Kashi is one of them.
He calls his new collection of 40 years of photography “Abandoned Moments,” a term he describes as moments “shaped by serendipity and instinct, rather than objectivity and intellect.” Released from the formality and training that direct most of the work of a creative soul, Kashi feels that with less control over his photography his images “may be more certain and more certainly true.”
In his search for truth, Kashi found himself observing life and reacting in a split second, finding serendipity and shaping it.
Look at his image of a boy watching Kashi photograph a street scene in what he describes as the poorest district of Diyarbakir, Turkey, in 1991. The street is nearly dark. With the sun practically on the horizon, it shines on only one side of the boy’s face, which we see from his cheeks up because he’s just barely in the frame.