I recently added a section of Writer Portraits to my website. W.G. Sebald may be the least known amongst the sitters in this portfolio, but perhaps the most interesting. Here is what I wrote about meeting him shortly after our shoot in 2001. Two months later he suffer from a fatal aneurysm while driving, causing his car to lose control and collide with an on-coming truck.
Before my shoot with German author W.G. Sebald, I read an interview in which he said things like: “You cannot really translate one to one from reality. If you try to do that, in order to get at a truth - value through writing, you have to falsify and lie. And that is one of the moral quandaries of the whole business.”
I found his ideas interesting and as we walked to Central Park, where I photographed him, I shared my experience of not remembering the details of what happened during photo shoots in my early days of working. My thinking was that I was so busy focusing on driving forward the picture-making process that I wasn’t really paying attention to anything else. I theorized that people don’t really remember what happened during their most important life episodes, as they are so intensely in the moment that they are not, in a sense, recording the experience.
My theory elicited no response from Mr. Sebald.
Chris Buck stories make my morning.