Photography is, according to Professor Traub, the art of extraction. When you take someone’s photograph, you take their presentation of self in that one moment and freeze it forever. What I thought was an interesting, thought-provoking question Traub brought up was: When I take someone’s photograph, am I capturing the mask people wear or am I unmasking them? That was the point of his book Lunchtime. During his work on this project, Traub came across many different people. He was interested, not in taking a snapshot of them, but in capturing their essence at the moment the picture was taken. Traub thought the streets during lunchtime were the best place to learn about human nature. During his moments on the streets of New York and Chicago, he learned about individual styles, and he says that there is a real moment of connection between the photographer and the photographed. It was a moment of recognition that was anything but casual. During that moment, people are caught in a moment of relaxation and their mask is nowhere to be seen.
Yet another interesting thing from the lecture on Tuesday was Traub’s view on the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” He believes that one picture says nothing, but one hundred begin to tell us something. Just as you can’t know everything by only looking at one side of things, you can’t know everything from just looking at one picture. In order to get a better view and understanding of your surroundings, you must know more than one facet of your situation. I think the same also goes for pictures. One picture can tell you a lot, but multiple pictures can tell you a lot more.