Alfred Stieglitz and his Songs of the Sky

Alfred Stieglitz b. New Jersey (1864-1946),  was one of the early grand masters of photography, who worked tirelessly to promote photography as a serious art form. Stieglitz is famous for his early photographs of New York city life and architecture, along with photographs of fellow artist and wife Georgia O'Keefe. 

My own series of cloud photographs are naturally fully informed and inspired by Stieglitz. However, not Stieglitz only, as I have always loved cloud formations, and often find myself looking skyward, to see what cloud formations have presented for the day. The constant variety and sublime beauty of cloud formations are always an enchantment. 

It seemed natural after studying photography, becoming familiar with Stieglitz and his  photography, that I too would begin to point my camera toward the sky. This occurrs more naturally when out in the landscape, in a desert, on an isolated beach, rather than in one's backyard, or on a busy main street.

Along with the aesthetic joy of creating my own cloud photographs, small jewels of beauty, my own sensibilities follow Stieglitz, who said of his "Songs of the Sky", later "Equivalents" :  “My cloud photographs are Equivalents of my most profound life experiences, my basic philosophy of life. All art is an equivalent of the artist’s most profound life experiences.” 

For Stieglitz, an Equivalent was a photograph that "stood for" a feeling he had about something other than the subject of the photograph. Stieglitz believed that his Equivalents could represent or describe emotionally how he felt about a particular friend. The display of the Equivalents was important, as the images were not monumental or necessarily individually compelling. Rather, as Peter C. Bunnell explains, Stieglitz " recognised that if a series of images was placed together, fragments of thought, facets of emotion and insight could express a whole thought, a whole idea, and, finally, a portrait of a person or of a relationship." 

My cloud series, "Songs of the Sky" after Stieglitz, do not aim to express an emotion about a friend , or form a portrait of a person. I follow more Minor White's observation, that an important part of the definition of an Equivalent, is that, "such a picture must evoke an emotion, and a very special emotion at that. It is a heightened emotion such as", in eastern philosophy, "the image takes one heavenward, or as Bernard Berenson would say is life enhancing."

 My endeavour is to achieve some poetic sensibility with my cloud images. I will continue to look skyward and watch for the "Songs of the Sky." Thank-you Stieglitz.

All photographs owned by and sourced from Luminous Artefact Photography.