Initially, I found Charles Traub’s presentation on his street portraits to be slightly irrelevant to the “Human/Nature” theme of the course. Traub’s initial black and white landscape photos captured the aesthetic beauty of the natural world, and clearly embodied the “nature” portion of the course, and his later street portraits depicted the Human aspect. However, there wasn’t an obvious link between the two that resonated with the theme for me.

It was only after the lecture, when I was thinking about the “humanslashnature” URL of the course blog that another connection occurred to me – although Traub’s street portraits don’t necessarily capture “nature” when you define it as:

  • the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations. 

 

However, they do an exquisite job of capturing “nature” when it is defined as the concept of “human nature,” or:

  • the basic or inherent features of something, especially when seen as characteristic of it. The innate or essential qualities or character of a person or animal. Inborn or hereditary characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality.

In his lecture, Traub says that his goal as a photographer is to “catch the moment when the mask relaxes;” to photograph the instant that a subject lets down the front they show to the world and “reveals a moment of interpersonal connection.” Essentially, Traub wants to photograph the core of human nature in each of his subjects.

Although this definition of “Nature” may not be what the Humanities board was considering when they chose this year’s theme, exploring alternate definitions for the terms gives Charles Traub’s photography multi-faceted relevance to this class.