There is a story that has stayed with me for many years. I read that HCB hid a small box of individual negatives, before leaving for the war in 1939. His precious negatives rested in a small box for several years, individually selected, cut to the individual frame, and completely without context. Each negative a unique treasure, with no story, and no caption. I think often of this story, as it in many ways reflects my approach to photography.
I travel light. I don’t own a flash, a tripod, or filters. I use only one type of black and white film, one 50 mm lens, and one analog camera. I shoot quickly, I don’t bracket, nor do I try different angles or compositions. On a roll, I will often have 36 completely different and unrelated photographs. Most of these are of course discarded, but on occasion, I find a photograph that I am happy with.
Further, I am a follower of Gianni Berengo Gardin, who stamps all his photographs with a green stamp that reads: Vera Fotografia (genuine photograph), confirming that what is in the photograph is what was in front of him when he made the photograph, an analog print from a negative that has not been digitally manipulated in any way. I do the same. I print in silver gelatin from original negatives and only scan the finished print on a flatbed scanner to send to you, or populate my website, harbel.com.
My photographs have no red thread, no collective purpose. I just try to make good photographs that can stand on their own without context or reason.