Or How To Make Thoughtful, Artful Images!
Bill Jay, recently deceased was famous in many area of photography. For me, it was his editorials and short end notes that were published in the Lens Work magazine. On several occasions, he wrote short and to the point thoughts about photography. One in particular keeps coming back to me: “If I ever need a brain transplant, I’d want one from a cell phone photographer because I’d want one that had never been used!” This pretty well puts a problem into the light that most photographers face on a daily basis; Photography, Fine Art Nature Photography in fact is not something taken on lightly, it requires thought. Specifically, fore thought. We do not simply walk up to a subject, snap a picture and move on thinking that we have captured then next Ansel image, that is best left to families on vacation taking snap shots in order to prove to the kids 20 years later that yes, Mom & Dad actually did take you on vacations!
What we do as Fine Art Photographers requires thought, consideration, vision and hard work. It does not come easy. It does not come from the newest technological camera gizzmo. I comes from looking, really looking at your subject, thinking about what it is and what you want it to be in your finished image, and what you want to show your viewers. Then and only then can you pick up your camera and using it as the tool that it is, make it happen. You MUST understand your tool and craft, after all, if you do not know what a hammer is, how can you drive a nail? This is the creative process that is seen in the most famous and successful photographers. Yes, once in a while we will get lucky and capture a super thought provoking image by accident, but ask yourself if you want to base your art and life on the occasional accident!
For my own process, the camera is just the 2nd or 3rd step in my process. First I visually explore my subject, moving around it, looking and coming to a understanding of what it is, evaluating the light and contrasts that play across it. Next I think about what I want to create and how to improve on it through composition and exposure, what do I want my potential viewer and critic to see? Only then will I pick up the camera and make it happen because I totally understand the camera, the physics of its use as a tool. The ART is in the visualization and thought that goes into the process before you pick it up! Sounds like this process is lengthy, and at first it can be, but the more practice you have the faster it becomes. For me it is only a matter of seconds now to work through this process, decide and implement the procedure! If you do NOT like what you see when you are searching, return another day and start the process over, everything changes with time. Be patient and relentless, everything changes in time and you will be rewarded if you stick to it! By sticking to these principals I get more images that will pass my own critical eye and make it into further stages of editing and ultimately to The Print which is another long series of posts on ART ….. So I will end this little introspection with another quote:
Art is NOT democratic; If millions of photographers take bad pictures, they are still bad!
Don’t take bad pictures, give them thought, think about what it is that you are trying to accomplish by taking the picture and what you wish to convey to your viewers, only then pick up your camera and make it happen!