Is it part of the learning-to-be-a-photographer process to re-take all of the iconic images that we have poured over in books and museums? How many photos of the falling-down barn in the Tetons does the world need? Do we think that our camera will capture some never before seen viewpoint? If you look through the ads for location-based photography workshops, it would seem that re-creation is a rite of passage. You will never be able to call yourself a "photographer" until you have this (fill-in-the-blank) experience in your portfolio.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Art is not to be found by touring to Egypt, China, or Peru; if you cannot find it at your own door, you will never find it." That thought makes things a bit more complicated, doesn't it? You mean I can't book a photo-junket to (fill-in-the-blank) and bring home fabulous pictures that will make me famous? Eh?
Someone recently sent these words to me:
To me there are three kinds of photos :
1) Documentary - I was here and I saw this place, person or thing
2) Snapshot - I was here with so and so and we were having fun.
3) Composed photo - I was here and saw this in this particular way or I was affected this way or want to show how this makes me feel or this is an interesting pattern and my skills allow me to express what I see.
Your photos are in the last category. They allow us to see the pattern in an interesting way (the underside of the colored umbrella - the bands of color and the black ribs), the beauty of a Maine Coon through light and shadow. The sunset with power lines through it. Most people would either skip it or not know how to make it interesting - you made it interesting.
In "Beauty in Photography", Adams discusses photographing evil; capturing the atrocities of war, the inhumane conditions that millions exist in every day, the desecration of our planet's wildlife population and on and on the list goes. There's no shortage of evil and hatred to be caught by the camera's lens. NG's David Griffin touched on it in his speech "How photography connects us to the world". The evil must be documented, history has shown us that. But how to do it? How does one maintain photographic and artistic integrity while shooting the worst side of humanity? There are those who do and do it well... they show us the worst while also giving us hope, because now that we are informed, how can we turn our eyes away?
We also need to capture beauty.... the sunrises, the children's faces, the mountain tops, the lion's pride, the joy of life.
Is it possible for one to have the ability to recognize a good photograph, without possessing the ability to create one? Absolutely! Making a good photograph not only requires the artistic knowledge of composition, light and shadow, tonal range, etc., but also the opportunity and the technical skills to assess the scene and adjust the camera settings accordingly.
The question came to mind after reading sections of "Beauty in Photography" re: critiquing. The gist of the thought is that we should not waste time critiquing bad photographs from bad photographers, as they will fall to the bottom of the pool on their own. But even good photographers, those who have produced fine work, will occasionally make a bad one and that is where we should direct our critiquing effort.
"John Locke's model of the human mind suggested that ideas associate with one another and that a string in the mind can be struck by a resonant idea. Therefore, inspiration was a somewhat random but wholly natural association of ideas and sudden unison of thought." Wikipedia
Ideas sometimes come easier , if I pick up the camera and start shooting anything and everything... instead of sitting, looking out the window, waiting for an idea to float along in front of my face.
I was reading an article on writing (eh?) and one of the dont's.... !!!! Leave them out! oops!
So I set a goal not to use any !! for one week..... I lasted two hours..... Communicating electronically is tricky. A comment that is well-intended could be received as sarcastic without the benefit of facial expression or tone of voice. And so we add punctuation marks and emoticons to convey our feelings and opinions.
What has this to do with photography? Well, we have the same issue with the two-dimensional image. I may take a photo that to me has no negative or sinister connotation, but others may see things differently and frequently do..... ! ;-) As previously noted in this blog, adding a description/title doesn't always (rarely!) (damn!) succeed in steering the viewer in the direction you want. I had to step away from the doll images because things were quickly spiraling down into a Stephen King novel.
I only recently saw this word used in a magazine article; it couldn't be more accurate I think. Except for those who make their living with a camera - wedding and portrait photogs and journalists - this is probably what the rest of us are doing... trying to figure something out, trying to tell others about us - our surroundings, family, travels, desires, expressing our emotions with photos. The artist in us influences the image, hopefully making my photograph different from everyine else's.
I believe that every photo we take/make is a form of a self-portrait, but actually turning the camera on ourselves is a unique experience. I think for some, it is a method of assuring a one-of-a-kind image. ;)
"Because self-portraits permit direct nonverbal self-confrontation, they can be not only validating and empowering, but also the most threatening and risky kinds of photos to open one's emotions to -- which is precisely the reason they are such quick and effective activators of deep process work in therapy situations." Phototherapy Site
I visited the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta for the first time and found wonderful mouments and stonework, as well as major damage still remaining from the April tornado. I will return for another visit when cooler weather arrives this fall.
I liked this view, with part of the Atlanta skyline (the King and Queen buildings) in the background.
And this beautiful statue, broken by a fallen tree, seemed to be sleeping: