Part 3: What Am I Looking At?


The photograph of the wedding at Central Lutheran (fig. 44) was made for my own analytic purpose, to explore some culturally held notions about women. In this way, any meanings — about weddings and churches or brides and their dresses — that this particular photograph might have for me or for others became independent of the specific feelings, thoughts, and ideas the bride in the photograph may have had while I was photographing. This is true of every photograph in the book.

A process of separation and recombination occurs in every medium of recording or representation. This photograph is three-dimensional space translated onto a two-dimensional strip of film, the colors and brightness translated into shades of gray, 1/30th of a second yanked from a continuing, unfolding ritual. The simultaneity of that instant and its original context — all its detail and complexity, including the multiple inner voices of the bride and the other people in the image — disappear and cannot be recovered. One can only guess at what came before and after that instant. Instead there is a new before and after — all the words and images preceding the photograph’s appearance in this book, and all the words and images following it.

The meaning of this wedding photograph cannot be given in a single sentence; rather, it arises in a web of ideas and associations developed in the context of both the photograph’s use and its reception by a viewer. I made the photograph of the bride intending to combine it with text and other photographs made at different times and






“I intended the photographs to embody the analysis”