The Ongoing Moment: Geoff Dyer on Photography

Geoff Dyer is an essayist and novelist. His book, “The Ongoing Moment,” was written in 2005. It is still fresh, relevant. I love his honesty. I love that he takes on icons of photography and shows how images and their makers play off from one another. Take for example Paul Strand’s image of the blind woman. Now blindness and photography are somewhat oppositional: if one photographs a blind person there is no chance the person will see the image. There is a strong possibility too, that the person will remain unaware that the image was taken. Strand did it. Lewis Hine did it in 1911. Gary Winogrand did it in 1968- all photographed blind people in their own style.

Aperture Foundation,

Aperture Foundation, “Blind Woman, New York,” a photograph by Paul Strand, 1916

Dyer places the photographs within a historical framework and does so with humor and intelligence. Dyer talks about photographer’s working methods, and how photographers see their own work. He looks at photographs and the history of medium from the perspective of someone who might borrow a camera when he travels, but hardly ever uses one otherwise. He speaks clearly, with visual examples to back up his evaluations. He is knowledgeable and insightful. He writes as if he is having a conversation, and a rather free flowing one at that. I found inspiration on every page, along with a dab of cynicism, some new connections, and lots of ideas to mull over. And over.