Of all the speakers which we have had so far for this class, I think that Charles Traub is one of the most relevant to our Human/Nature theme. As the photographs on his website show, he has experience both as a nature photographer and as a photographer of people. Thinking about our earlier speaker on realism in art, I was led to consider how “real” Traub’s photographs are. Broadly speaking, a photograph will always be more real than a painting, even a portrait, still life, or landscape painting, because it is a mechanically-produced image, rather than one first filtered through the human brain. Yet even photographs are not always exactly real. Traub has displayed on his website some truly striking negatives, showing blindingly-white standing stones rearing up against dark skies. Yet, being negatives, these photographs show bright where there was dark, and dark where there was light. In addition, they do it all in shades of grey and white, instead of the true colors of the photograph.
Playing with another definition of “real,” Traub’s human photographs may be in true color, not negatives, but they show a posed moment. Since he obviously had to get permission before taking a photograph to use in his show, Traub’s subjects are all more aware of their appearances in that moment than they would be otherwise. Nature and human, with changed colors or poses consciously held for the camera, the images he makes are and are not real.