For over 35 years I have collected daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes; small, intimate images from the 19th century that can be carried in a pocket and displayed at will. In collecting these images I usually looked for a perfect, flawless piece, but over time I found myself drawn to the undesirable – broken, scratched, partially destroyed images where the imperfections rather than ruining the object seemed to impart a greater beauty. This new way of looking at photography was intriguing. I kept these flawed treasures in a box and called them my orphans.
As I continued to add to my ‘orphan collection’ and consider why I was drawn to these damaged images, a friend introduced me to wabi sabi, a Japanese concept that includes the celebration of objects that bear the marks of time and use. Suddenly I looked at these “imperfect” images in a new way, and realized that my fascination with their aesthetic qualities could be explored through my own work.
- Charles Schwartz