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Year in Photos: ‘We All See Through Our Experiences’

R.J. Hamilton, right of Hoboken, N.J., takes a video of his son Liam and wife Eniko with reenactor Bruce Atkins of Gloucester, Mass. in Barnard, Vt. Saturday, October 12, 2013. Atkins has no Indian heritage, but was participating in the Barnard Raid reenactment as one of 21 Mohawks are reported to have trekked from Canada and taken four prisoners from the town on August 9, 1780. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

R.J. Hamilton, right of Hoboken, N.J., takes a video of his son Liam and wife Eniko with reenactor Bruce Atkins of Gloucester, Mass. in Barnard, Vt. Saturday, October 12, 2013. Atkins has no Indian heritage, but was participating in the Barnard Raid reenactment as one of 21 Mohawks are reported to have trekked from Canada and taken four prisoners from the town on August 9, 1780. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

In a November interview with the New York Times’ Lens blog, photographer Josef Koudelka said, “I am interested in one picture that tells many different stories to different people. That is to me a sign of the good picture.”

This image may or may not achieve what he describes as “the good picture.” It was taken in October at the reenactment of a raid on settlers in Barnard by British soldiers and Mohawk Indians. It is simple in composition, a snapshot of a common scene that appears in family albums everywhere, but taken from the outside.

“We all see through our experiences,” said Koudelka during the interview that corresponded with the release of his book Wall: Israeli and Palestinian Landscapes. Koudelka’s experiences growing up behind the Iron Curtain surely informed his approach while photographing the barriers erected by Israel in and around the West Bank. But the real meaning of an image takes shape when it is viewed by others who bring to it their own way of seeing and interpreting.

All this is to say, I invite you to see what you will in this or any of my images that appear in the Valley News.

Koudelka said, “For me what photographers say about their photos doesn’t have any importance. For me it is just enough to look at the pictures. Many times — for the boring pictures — people have to say so many things about them to show you there is something to them when many times there is nothing.”

I recommend taking a closer look at the Nov. 19 interview and accompanying images on Lens. It concludes, and so I will conclude, with the thought, “Beauty is very relative and it depends on each person and the beauty is everywhere and the beauty is even in the tragedy.”

— James M. Patterson

The Valley News' three staff photographers and two interns are sharing the stories behind their favorite photographs of the year. Read about their favorites in their own words at this link. More of their favorites can be seen in the Photo Galleries section.

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'Valley News' Photographers' Year in Photos

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Valley News' three staff photographers and two interns are sharing the stories behind their favorite photographs of the year. Read about their photos in their own words at the links below. More of their favorites can be seen in the Photo Galleries section. …