Sunday, 4 September 2011

Your Sense of Self in the Photos You Take

It’s father’s day 2011, “Happy Father’s Day” to all those Dads. I’m pausing for reflection on the times and memories I had with my Dad and those I have myself with Number One. I’ve also been thinking about the photos I take and incidentally, Robin Wong has just posted on his blog - Robin Wong- Snapshots vs Photographs.

To add context to my searching for self, I’ve been exposed to a barrage of Photogs on Google+, with lists of lists of lists of Photogs. Some with an immense sense of self, some with a sense of sharing, some that make images that you can tune in, some that are nowhere like it. On the other hand, I participate in the Beginner’s Forum at DP Review and that brings insight as well into how digital beginners view their efforts and their search for instantiation and validation by their peers.

Really, it’s this. Photography is a journey for me. A search for my ability to create artistically – when my other pursuits are more logical and analytical. A liberation and a breathing of soul and life.Not every one approaches photography like this.

Some people just want a quick snapshot of life, of the moment, of the people, of the circumstance. We speak of snapshots in a somewhat second class way, as something we don’t bring to the table in intellectual company. And yet, without this fervour for snapshots through the years, those intellectuals and collectors who now treasure sepia toned or faded colour photos for their vintage effect, won’t have much to treasure or collect.

Some others treat Photography as an income source, with a workman like approach to the skill, to the photos and whatever perfectionism they place in competently and repeatedly taking a reliable, technically valid shot for a client brief. No, these are not snapshots, they’re sometimes very “set up”, staged and planned but I propose, they are not automatically satisfying to every individual viewer.

And there’s a whole rainbow and plethora of reasons and rationale between the two cases.

So, where does that leave you?

  • You’ve got to shoot what you like, in the way that you like.
  • The issue is that on the start of the journey through photography, one seeks validation and one seeks out a critic, a judge or failing that a peer. I guess that is part of the learning process – what do people think about your efforts. Is it too dark? Is it too light? Can you see what I see? Is my bum too fat in this?

    In some ways, this is inevitable – the search for truth in aesthetic appreciation. In other ways, it can be quite painful, tortuous as different viewers give varying opinions. Do you trust this opinion or the other opinion? At the end of the day, it comes back to you making your own opinion – it’s like the oft repeated saying of hiring a consultant to affirm what you already know.
  • A new aspect to me, is establishing what I like to see. Yes, before Google+, you had to venture out to see another artist’s work. Now, you just have to Circle everyone and your Stream is full of some gems and a lot of photos that you would not shoot yourself. And that’s the second big point – you take the time to sieve out what you don’t like and you absorb osmotically, visually, what makes you happy.
  • Finally, the pursuit and the journey – to produce the images that make you, and make what you like.
  • Don’t be in a hurry to achieve that final goal. Remember, it’s a journey of self discovery. You’re supposed to enjoy the journey. You’re supposed to discover yourself and your skills. If you could produce what you want yesterday, what would you do next?
Between the stone men
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