Saturday, December 23, 2006

Three little answers

Answers to the three little questions, posed earlier this week. What do you want to do with photography ?

I always struggle with questions like this - perhaps more fundamentally I can start by saying why I do photography at all. I like that it makes me see things that many people overlook. It slows me down, makes time pass at a different speed and engages me with the place I'm in, not what I'm doing next week or what I've done in the past. It gives me the permission to stop, look around and relax. I get a huge thrill when the images appear, as good as or even better than I saw or thought I saw at the time of capture. I get a kick out of the interplay of light and colour or really capturing something that shows the essence of the person I'm photographing or the place I'm in. I want to shoot travel pictures that make you want to go there, or feel like you already have. I want to shoot portraits that make you already know this person you've never met. So I want to communicate with the viewer, how I feel things.
I feel though that I jump around between genres of photography, doing a bit of landscape photography, a bit of travel, cover a variety of sports, some natural light portraits, learn how to use lights, clich├ęd macros of flowers, some wedding images. Along the way I might produce the occasional stand out image, but no real cohesive set of images or anything that might be considered to have a style or recognisable part of me in them. I'm youngish at 34 and younger still as a photographer, having only picked up a camera in 2001, but I feel at the moment that I'm not focused enough to do anything significant. Maybe that is fine, but I'm starting to feel that I'd like to be able to point to a set or sets of images and see some sort of whole, rather than a series of disconnected greatest hits. My wife says I'm great at starting things but often get bored and move onto something else before finishing. Maybe that's all I need to do. Finish some things. Significant is a very lofty goal, maybe just finished is better.
What are your goals ?
This seems to be the big gaping hole in my answers right now. Not sure. I suppose when I work that out, I'll have more of a direction to go in. What I'm missing is how to get from where I am to even working out a set of goals, never mind working out how to achieve them. I think I'd like to do some cohesive images as part of a project or series, but I'm struggling to ever find a series or concept that I'd like to shoot. I'm technically inclined and I think reasonably accomplished in the craft side of photography but struggling to find my way towards some sort of artistic ideas that are my own, rather than repetition of images I see in other people's work. That mirrors my education and upbringing, that was almost entirely technically focused too. I'm concerned that I'll find I have nothing to say. But I still think I'd like to find out.
Why do you enter contests ?
As a way to share my images. Also, partly for validation but mainly for the increased audience that winning can bring. I've won a few photographic contests and the feedback I get from the viewers is very helpful. I doubt I'd have gotten so many people to look at my images, without winning. So I enter contests for the thrill I get from winning and the recognition it provides. Also, in a less secure way, it provides approval from my peers on what I'm doing - the validation that I can take a good photo. I'm not entirely sure why I care for that validation, but it always seems to be there. Friends & family are always so gushing with praise, but I tend to not value that opinion as highly as I do that of more accomplished photographers - who should at least have a wider and more refined view of what good actually means.


John M. Setzler, Jr. said...

I think your answers are excellent. I'm not quite that far along with my own photography yet. My answers are:

1. I don't know.
2. I don't know.
3. Because it's fun.

I used to think I wanted to do something with photography. Now, I think we probably share a common view on this issue, because I like what photography does with me. I also don't know what it is that I like to photograph yet. If I ever find that answer, I'll probably have more definitive answers to a lot of questions. In the mean time, I'll follow my camera rather than lead it.

I think my goals are non-existent at this time. If question #1 ever finds an answer for me, maybe there will be goals at that time.

I think contests are fun, and like you said, some sort of validation is always nice.

milo said...

I have to be honest, 90% percent of your answers mirror my own thoughts.

But more importantly than that:

I know I don't always agree with you (or Setzler, since he's "here" too) in the dpc forums, but I have nothing but respect for your philosophical approach to your craft (again, this includes John). The fact that you seriously consider these questions is more important than the answers. We all have to find our place, and we'll be happier when we do.

much respect

(hopper on dpc)

MW said...

i'm curious how you fared in that contest you entered the highschool fotball picture...
you can answer here, or email me.

Unknown said...

Mike - still waiting to find out. Some time in early January I think.

Amanda said...

I think that having a decent break from your camera this year has been the best thing for you. I'm excited to help you set some goals and see them through this year, if you'll let me!

PS I love the new blog profile photo :)

Erin said...

i love that picture in the top of this post. beautiful!