There was a time – for a very long time – I was argumentative. I kindly reflect, now, that perhaps it was a form of imbalanced inquisitiveness. Maybe I wanted to be convinced that what I was listening to was backed up with conviction.
One day, circa 1967, a few of us had gathered to burn some smudge sticks and clear the air. I don’t remember the specifics, but I was probably being adamant about some perception – the way I saw it. My friend growled at me. His words smacked me with a surprising power, “I am an artist!! he said, I look at things differently!”
Is that essence of art?
Half of it?
Is it art if only one package of human senses brings it into being? Does creativity need an audience to be art? Does it fall silently in the forest, if no one is there to witness?
I think it takes multi-peoples. I think creativity in a proverbial vacuum may be a delightful construct, but most assuredly lacks value. Value is always determined by recipients. I believe creative expression needs an audience to qualify as art; and that’s the way I look at it!
I began “taking” pictures long before I began to understand what I was doing. There was something I liked about it. I liked the feelings. There were a few things I didn’t like, also. Film was expensive – more than my allowance. I had to rake leaves, shovel snow and deliver newspapers. I had to ride my bike to town and back twice; with an unreasonable wait in between, for processing. I had to learn to accept that what I saw, and how I thought my world looked, were two things my camera and I didn’t always agree on. I had to learn to yield to the lens; to understand the how and why of silver molecules – now digital bites. I had to learn how to grab a handful of light, filter it through my mind’s eye and squeeze it into a little box where, hopefully, it would preserve a slice of life – an emotional moment.
I liked the sensation of seeing a shot; the anticipation of the review; and most certainly the high when it worked. I still feel the same way fifty plus years later.
Photography has changed.
Yes, there have also been shifts in the depth and breadth of how enraptured I am with the pastime. There has been an enigmatic synergy between an expanded understanding and a narrowing focus. Technology stirs the mix.
I predict that in a while there will be a new name for photography. Maybe not. Maybe as long as … I was thinking … as long as subjects are still matter. I mean … the only thing that can be photographed is light; mostly the reflection of light; sometimes filtered light (Which is refraction – a not so direct reflection off invisible particles.)
A camera is a strange instrument. It can see types of light the human eye can not. It can erase or increase reflections; and it certainly can alter, as well as, reorganize the scene in front of it. Cameras have always been able to do all that. However, now-a-days they are highly sophisticated computers; and only the point man of the team. Yeh, hands and eyes direct them, but cameras are way more capable of thinking for themselves, recently.
There was a time one could take a roll of film into a dark room and whip it into submission – keep dipping it in water until it gave up what was being asked of it.
My camera is six years old. That’s about twenty dog years. My software came with Windows 95. On a regular basis, I still discover something I never knew they could do. I use some fractional part of Picasa, too. (Old Stuff)
Ya know what I see as a big challenge for photographers today? Other photographers. It’s kind of like the stories of income inequality. There are some with tricked out equipment bags running Adobe’s monthly plan for their nerdy alter egos, while the huddled masses shrink in shame; and what a shame it is.
Often, very often, I come back to some of Bob Dylan’s words. These are from Tangled up in Blue “We always did feel the same, we just saw it from a different point of view.”
Ah! I’m just feeling sorry for myself. Pretty stupid, really, but some of the latest HDR stuff makes me want to cry.
An irony dancing in between all the digital data is that my style has always fed off evolving handicaps. I have taken (If I do say so myself.) some amazing and beautiful shots completely by mistake. So, error is not an enemy. Having weak eyes (Far sighted with an astigmatism) and a fuzzy lens, light on mega pixels, has tipped me towards composition and editing experiments.
[Composition, by the way is probably the least changed aspect of photography. It has maintained a relatively classic continuity across a wide range of artistic mediums for centuries.]
I wrote a piece back around Christmas, essentially for my grandson. It expounds on some thoughts about composition and describes a few basic techniques.
Basically … my advice, for those who decide to think about why they are using a camera, is: be very judgmental about everything you look at. Criticize it all. (Critical Judgment is not necessarily a negative process.) Dissect all pictures viewed and especially the ones you take. You will find that occasionally it will be hard to find something you don’t like. After a while, you will notice more and more of what you agree with and have to search for what you would do differently. That approach will define your style. It will help you find your niche; your creative zone; it will strengthen your skills.
Photography is dichotomous. It requires a lot of mental energy, but runs on emotional fuel. A good way to get better is to make a lot of mistakes and feel ok about them; the ultimate avenue for improvement is to become a better person – a more congruent being.
Or …shoot it all, let the chips fall and sort it out on your monitor with your legs stretched across a work station. I’m still working on that part being “photography”! I console myself with a twisted sense of revenge. I am now getting even with my camera for all the times it completely changed the way I saw what was right in front of my eyes.
Or our ever expanding international guest page *Global Perspectives*?
And ….. now there are “Pst-lettes”
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