The painter learns to look at a cat until he can draw the cat from memory. Most photographers love cats but resent such intense looking; and since they do not have a photographic memory, casually expect the camera to remember for them. To their detriment, it does.
It does violence to publish Alfred Eisenstaedt’s pictures alone on a page because he habitually works with the word and picture printed page in mind. And furthermore with the printed page in mind of his boss, LIFE magazine, by whose courtesy these nine pictures are reproduced.
Through the courtesy of the Polaroid Corporation last year the Photography Department of the Rochester Institute of Technology conducted a small experiment in teaching. According to the wording of the Pilot Project the aim would be to teach such absolute basics as communication with camera pictures, approaches to penetrating portraiture, and to be generally creative.
Let me call these photographs "abstract", although I realize that every photograph is an abstraction in the strictest sense of the word. Leaving out, distorting, pulling off the thinnest layer of the outside skin of an object, neglecting everything which is not clearly visible on the surface, twisting sizes and perspective, and at the same time changing arbitrarily the richness of colors in nature into a limited gray-black scale—if that is not abstraction, then I don’t know what abstraction is.