This Photograph is probably one of the very best I have experienced in my entire life.
There have been two blogs I have been working on for release. The first one is a bit of a rant about a recent event which left me as angry as I have ever been in my entire life. I would rarely describe myself as being incandescent with rage but the recent situation shredded my usual placid nature. Sadly whenever I try to describe it diplomatically and touching only on the feelings and not the events exactly I become so angry I need to listen to whale song for half an hour to calm down.
So leaving that aside I began work on a nicer one about Memories and in specific Photographs left by my Grandfather. I think it is a nice little piece and I have enjoyed writing it and am also very excited about the way the story is yet to still unfold. It should be released soon.
And then yesterday I experienced this Photograph.
Whilst awaiting the arrival of a lovely model yesterday I was flicking through a book of Photographic icons. I could list the names of the famous Photographers presented who you will more likely than not have never heard of but I won’t. I shall however mention that the wonderful shot of James Dean hunched against the wind was presented or of Marilyn Monroe’s last photo session were included …. I looked at them for a moment and flicked past them.
I was disappointed that the historic Christine Keeler shot was not included.
The Photograph of Che Guevara though transfixed me.
Now I am pretty proud to say that I have a much better than average sphere of knowledge when it comes to history. I am proud of this and I devour history texts and documentaries with fervour, but I am a touch embarrassed to admit I know virtually nothing about Che.
I know he smoked cigars (although I could be confusing that knowledge with Castro), I know he appears on a lot of T Shirts, I know he had something to do with South America and I suspect Cuba in particular and I also know he was executed.
As such I could be about to fawn on the portrait of a man comparable to Stalin.
Ooooh …. I also know he appeared in a Pet Shop Boys song “ Che Guevara and Debussy to a Disco beat”. So whilst I am not going to research him until I have put this piece out I feel fairly confident he was not responsible for the suffering of millions.
But from this Photo I do feel I know this man.
There is a confidence about him. Although he has experienced trauma there is a sense of humour that overrides this. The eyes are intelligent and experienced. I think this is a man who has experienced hard times but driven with determination. This is not a hard man but this is man who has had to do hard things and despite the passion and determination is by nature a calm and relaxed person. He is driven by belief to do things but his nature is not violent.
If I was to compare this to any other photograph in the book I would say this is the most real, but more than that.
A lot of what I (and other photographers) do is to create a construct. We manufacture a feeling and a mood to an image. I don’t feel this is a flaw as such and even the most famous have their image constructed in a portrait. We create an interpretive vision of our subject that while is not exactly false, it’s not exactly real either.
This is not the photo of Che that ends on T Shirts and posters but I am in love with this image and could not take my eyes away from it. It intrigues me to now find out how much truth I got from trusting this photograph. I may find out that this man is a monster and would that not be fascinating too?
I may find this man to be a hero or a villain but I feel I have seen the humanity inside him. I may end up hating his very existence which is exactly why I wanted to write this before researching him.
I know other photographs were taken from the same session and that is one of the fundamental secrets of photography. Be in the right place at the right time, choose the right angles and sometimes it is pure luck to get the magic shot. The art is in choosing the right image to use afterwards.
This image stirs my soul and for me it is not the person in the image as much as the man who decided that this was the image to use. Che may not stir my soul when I discover him, but the photographer certainly has.