It is not often that the world is blessed with the presence of an individual that seems to exude an innate passion for the world around him or her, and also possesses the unique ability to illustrate that world for the rest of mankind to appreciate. Despite this rarity, there are some whom are able to accomplish exactly such an impressive feat. Photo Bloggers all over the world (myself included) attempt this sort of thing daily, but success in such endeavors is a subjective measurement. Yet, one such individual clearly accomplished this with definitive success and effectiveness. Interestingly, he did this long before the internet or even the first computer was in existence.
Jacques Henri Lartigue was born in 1894 in France. He was blessed to be born into a family of great prominence and wealth. From a young age, he was obsessed with the idea of capturing the fleeting moments of life. Influenced by his father's passions for photographic pursuits, Jacques also began taking photos from the mere age of 7.
What makes him special is that he was able to find the absolute joy and human expression from both the simplest of family moments to the greatest of man's achievements. If one peruses Jacques work, they will be struck by a dichotomy of shots were taken at events ranging from family leisure time, to the testing of the first aircraft designs, and earliest motor races. Indeed, Jacques had the ability to achieve photographic excellence regardless of the magnificence of the venue or the cast of characters.
What is so striking in most of Jacques work is the unbridled joy of the moment that is so apparent in his images. If one refers to some of the video interviews with Lartigue available today, then the explanation for this is not so nebulous. Jacques clearly loved life, and was enthralled by the joy of the daily experience.
Jacques found a way to share this joy with the world, via painstaking photographic precision. Apparently, Jacques was extremely committed to the technical side of his craft, even at a young age. This commitment enabled him to take groundbreaking imagery such as his famous shot of the race car in which he distorted the car to emphasize movement via exploiting the limitations of the camera shutter at the time. Jacques was committed to mastery of his camera, focus, etc. and this added a certain ability on his behalf to really express the emotion of the moment within the two dimensional constraint of a photograph.
One of the most definitive aspects of Lartigue was his interest in keeping detailed photo diaries. He would make it a daily pursuit to record his daily life in terms of the weather, his photographic attempts, and the presentation of previous photographs. It was these photographic diaries which ultimately led to his discovery much later on in the United States. These books really in a way could be considered the world's first photo blog, as it was the daily recordings by a man and his camera.
What is really striking about Lartigue is both the expression of his imagery, and the passion he had for documenting this expression. Indeed, he is very inspiring in the sense that he continued throughout his life to generate works of art that allow the world, even today, to appreciate the joys and memories of his time, and he cataloged them in a manner that not only allows the viewer to get a chronological presentation of his life, but also allows them to appreciate his original insights into the images, and gives a sense of his emotion at the time.
In this way Lartigue really defined what a photo blog should be. It is not merely to be a collection of random images, but it has the potential to be so much more. It can be a glimpse into the soul of the person behind the camera, and a peek at the world that they once knew.
Excellent documentary about Lartigue: