the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

IF YOU SEE IT, IT MATTERS

1/320 sec., f/5.6, ISO 100, 35mm.

1/320 sec., f/5.6, ISO 100, 35mm.

By MICHAEL PERKINS

TOO MUCH OF THE TIME, WE ARE SHOOTING PHOTOGRAPHS TO NOT ONLY BE SEEN BUT “APPRECIATED“. This can become an emotional and artistic trap, since art is not designed to be juried. We’d all like the world to “get” what we do, but it’s all too easy to bend the arc of what we create until it matches the trajectory of what the world will approve.

Think for a moment about how such a tactic can cripple you as a photographer. I mean, stop you in your tracks.

Consider: many photographers will logically move, over time, from showing the world fairly literally to suggesting a special viewpoint, seeing it in a more abstract fashion. They learn to tell more by showing less, by being selective. This is a perfectly logical part of their development, but as a consequence, some of their pictures will inevitably leave some viewers behind. Suddenly, their images are “arty”, or “intellectual”, or whatever other word can be hurled at them to dismiss what they are doing.

But that’s okay. I’m not saying that you should live your life eating worms and striving to be a tortured genius. I just mean to suggest that your vision belongs to you. It’s validity cannot be diminished, unless you do it yourself. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Life and Look magazine photographer Elliot Erwitt on this :

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. 

What a great concept. The thing you are shooting is not content. The way you shoot it is. That means viewpoint and personal interpretation must be more important that objects or subjects. If they are not, there’s no way in hell to make photography be about anything but recording. If they are, thought, ah, then, anything’s possible.

Bottom line, if you aren’t true to your vision, it’s a cinch that no one else ever will be, either.

So there.

 

 

 

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