By William Carter

Photographer, Author, Jazz Musician

Fresh Light

with 4 comments

Are traditional & modern / old & new media, really at war?

William CarterFor fifty years I shot worldwide on film, printed in darkrooms on four continents, published in a wide variety of traditional media.  I would not trade those experiences.  To quote from my forthcoming book, “I count myself fortunate to have been seeded in the warm loam of classic photographic practice.”

But then I add, “Equally, I’m glad to make use of whatever new developments prove useful.”   Most useful, indeed, are digital photography and the digital media, in their countless flowerings.  Literally and metaphorically, I find myself emerging from the meditative close focus of the darkroom into the fresh broad brilliance of the “blogosphere.”

The frontier-minded U.S. has always been spellbound by the “new all new,” whereas traditional cultures located their main value clusters in the past.  But the greatest artists often seem to  surpass such timely strictures.

Near the end of his life the painter Paul Cezanne said, “Even though I am already old, I am only a beginner.  However, I am beginning to understand…”  Photographer Paul Strand said, “We are all students.”

In that sense, we are all, always, “emerging.”  Every morning, the light on our doorstep is as fresh as Genesis.  We only have to see it.  A great teacher said, “One sees the world as one is.”  The sculptor Constantine Brancusi said, “It is not difficult to make things.  What is difficult is to reach the state in which we can make them.”

Some such quotes were printed in my 1996 book on the nude, Illuminations.  Others appear in my Causes and Spirits, due out this summer, which opens with the lines of the Star Spangled Banner — “Oh, say, can you see?” — and riffs on the realization that the camera, besides being a profession, was a way for me to discover, at once, the world and myself.

A sampling of the results are on view at

Photographing people of many backgrounds, in many places, one becomes acutely aware of their sharply differing tribal, social, and other identities – the source of seemingly endless conflicts.  There are no easy answers, and indeed the future seems ominous on that level.  In later postings here, I hope to say something more about tribalism, its possible origins and future.  Blogging and the web seem to have raised the stakes.

For now, suffice it to say that in my work as a photographer, writer, and sometime jazz musician, my (unfashionable?) mode has always been not to dwell on the surfaces that seem to separate us, but to try to look behind and below those surfaces, to that which unites us.

Stay tuned.

Copyright statement: William Carter papers, © Stanford University Libraries. Click here for a detailed usage guide.

4 Responses

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  1. Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?

    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard work due to no back up.
    Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?


    Ravi Deshmukh

    February 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm

  2. very interesting, bill……definitely a good marketing piece!

    here’s a quote that i love, that somehow popped into my mind after reading the first few paragraphs of your blog — it seems related somehow to the idea of growing older, wiser and emerging, and seeing things more clearly:

    mother teresa: “We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”

    happy you’ve joined the ranks of the technologically attuned. love, karin



    July 3, 2011 at 1:09 am

    • agree with karin and mother theresa quote…



      July 20, 2011 at 2:08 pm

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