My digital camera can take over a hundred pictures at a time and mine is a basic model, I presume there are others that can take thousands of photographs at one sitting. I suppose this is good for future historians, but for present needs it seems excessive – like having thousands of anything. Of course having innumerable examples of taxidermy is a very different matter, not the same at all.
A digital camera is like a computer, or a modern car engine, in that it is impossible for a layperson to fix if it goes wrong. In fact the manufacturers have shown great ingenuity in ensuring that we cannot repair what we have bought. This advanced technology has not only helped us do more, it has also wrested power from our hands. I think this is why I was relieved, as well as impressed, to read about Miroslav Tichý and his approach to photography.
When taking photographs Miroslav Tichý (born 1926) was often mistaken for a tramp due to his habit of creating his own clothes from remnants of those of others. He also created his own cameras using such items as cardboard toilet-roll tubes and bottle-tops.
From 1972 to 1985 he would take up to a hundred photographs a day of people in his home town of Kyjov in the Czech Republic. His subjects were usually female and often to be found at the local swimming pool. His unusual attire and devotion to his art occasionally got him into trouble with the authorities.
He was able to achieve some remarkable results as many of his subjects clearly thought his photographic equipment to be fake and would sometimes strike poses as a result. He never exhibited his work and pursued an isolated existence. In recent years someone discovered his cache of photographs and they have since appeared in many prestigious galleries, a development that Mr Tichý seems uncomfortable with. He now concentrates on drawing and painting, and continues to ignore the crude trappings of success.