I like to photograph purposefully. A notion pops up in my mind and I search for the best way to express it as some form of story. That story can be simple or complex. While independent viewers may not discern my story’s particulars, I believe they can discern the presence of intent and narrative. This they perceive as a promise of reward. It is worth their while to explore a little bit more.
But regardless of how clear or powerful an author’s story is, we lose control of the narrative when a work is released to the public. We have little control over the context in which the work is subsequently presented. Or, as happened to my portrait of Vladimir Kanevsky, unrelated events can overwhelm the author’s intent.
Vladimir Kanevsky is Ukrainian. It happened to snow on the day of my making his portrait, so of course I invited him to be photographed outside. We drove to nearby Liberty State Park, then blanketed in white. Lower Manhattan loomed across the Hudson. My concept was that an immigrant artist was bringing his whimsical sculpture to the art capital of the world.
Of course, the events of September 11 overtook this narrative. Now the first thing people see is the World Trade Center’s twin towers. This photograph is tainted with historical lament. But not for me. I still see an intrepid artist approaching Oz, full of hope and optimism for the future.