Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A mission to see photographically

In my blog advocating a mission or project orientated approach to photography I mentioned that taking this approach would change the way you see the world.

It may sound surprising but photography happens in the mind rather than being a mechanical matter of picking up a camera and pointing the lens at the subject. Throughout the process of creating an image, from having the first concept through to visualising the image, then dealing with the technical capture and finally through to post capture processing and output in print – your emotions, intellect and even personality play a role in determining the final result.

Beyond that a photographer's true merit is not judged by a single work. We all have good images, poorer images and if we are lucky one or two great images. The photographer's legacy is a body of work. Does it consist of saccharine, disparate images or does it delve into a subject and communicate the great truths of nature or life? Does the body of work resonate with the audience? Does it evoke an emotion, spark curiosity or stimulate thought.

Photographers working on a project, on a mission, will delve ever more deeply into the visual reality of their subject. Metaphorically speaking they will break their subject apart into fragments and then reunite these different fragments or aspects into a new and interesting image. You can't do that by walking around and happy snapping everything that catches your eye. If you'll pardon the pun, you need to be focused mentally and you need to be seeing photographically.

The more you observe your subject the more you will see and the more you will have to show your audience. There's a difference between looking at something and photographic seeing, which is using the mind to actively seek a way to use photography to convey or communicate something photographically.

Working on a photographic project facilitates the process of photographic seeing. It will change your photography from looking and capturing a pretty image to actually seeing and communicating your vision.

I hope this article stimulates some thought.

I've got lots of interesting ideas for blogs. My next one will probably be on why an image in print is the ultimate end product of the photographic process and the best way to judge a picture, and for that matter a photographer's ability.

Cheers for now,

Paul
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