BUT BEFORE THAT MECHANICAL APPROACH, IT WAS ALL MANUAL
SO how about a drawing or a sketch?
Once upon a time that was how the present was recorded, so as not to forget. There’s an advantage here for you can choose, illuminate, accent this or that. You decide what is most important. You can focus on a detail, on the way light is caught, the relationship between two shapes.
When you look at the world and start to analyze the scene, you can let your discerning eye tell you what is most relevant. How many shades of grey and ocher there are, then there is suddenly a splash of yellow as the sun breaks through between two buildings. The streets and lanes become a mosaic of abstract clearcut shapes. You become aware of the way light changes and at noon the shadows cut across the street to lap themselves up the facades across the way.
And of course there are the people. For some they are what matter most. For drawing or sketching is an interactive, social activity. Buildings are not interested in what they look like, but people are. Curious, they want to see what you are doing, they wonder if that’s really how you see them and are delighted to recognize themselves. Although of course the same may be true of a photograph. But before the instant iPhone, a sketch was more immediate as well a being something that spoke directly.
A photograph somehow makes me feel that I am invading the privacy of others. A drawing doesn’t. The drawing is also more about the hand that drew those lines, that captured a likeness or an identifying characteristic, than it is about the inspiration for that image. What interests us most about a drawing is the artist, and not the model, and what it can reveal to us about the times and the time itself.