Posted by Tania Kindersley.
The least I can do, after everything you have had to put up with over the last few weeks, is give you a treat. And this is a perfect treat.
I was just rummaging through my favourites file, wondering why the technology does not exist for one to actually delete things from it (mine is stuffed to its gills and back) when I came across this extraordinary collection of photographs by a fellow called Emilio Morenatti:
Here is one of my favourites, just to give you an idea:
I love everything about that photograph: the colour, the focus, the light, the human story it tells.
I think: how did this end up in my favourites? Then I have a vague memory. I think I wrote something here about a war photographer who got shot, and was still taking photographs even as he was being wheeled into the hospital. I have always been rather obsessed with war photographers, ever since I first hear the name Robert Capa, and this one was particularly brave and good. I think, I think, the fellow with him was Emilio Morenatti, so I must have googled his name and found these pictures and been so struck by them that I stored them away in one of my myriad favourites folders. What seems even more miraculous is that here they are, on my brand new computer, which hardly has anything on it at all, it is such a neophyte.
The other thing I find interesting is that everyone is always on about citizen journalism, and how photography as a profession will die because everyone has a camera, and even the really good quality cameras are coming down in price, and there is all that fine software and it’s a wonderful democratic thing. I know photographers who are very worried about their futures. But then you look at something like this collection and you think: oh yes, I see. Nature is no democrat. Some people are just much, much better at certain things than others. (Although, comfortingly, this is not entirely random luck: the good ones are usually the ones who start off with a sliver of talent and then practice really, really hard.) When you see these pictures, you realise that Emilio Morenatti is properly good. He has a little shadow of genius hovering over him, I think, and that is not a word I fling about that much. He understands light and humanity and colour very well. He is a master of his art. I find this oddly reassuring. I like it when people are very good at their job. It’s the phoneys who drive me demented.
I think about how I take photographs myself. Sometimes one comes out that I am really pleased with. Sometimes that is because I have really thought about it and looked and tried and considered. Sometimes it is point and shoot dumb luck. When I look at Emilio Morenatti, I see what an amateur I am, where he is a pro. I do not mind that. Amateur come from the latin for love, after all. And anyway, I can do a bit with words. That is where my own professionalism lies. I’m not going to be greedy.
So: the pictures of Emilio Morenatti: that’s your treat for the day. Because you really do deserve it.