Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Photographic Journey

I have been out of college now for more than 15 years. That is 15 years of not analyzing the photographs I and others have created. 15 years of not talking about what is a good photograph or how it has failed. So everything I have learned has not been reinforce and cultivated to make me a better photographer. Now, and back then, with the internet that should not have happened. I should not have let the left side of my brain atrophied so when I do use it, I strain it and fall short of my desired goal. So what is a photographer on their own to do? Review, shoot, and get critiqued.

Up to now I have put my photos out there and I have had a few comments that have been flattering and that is cool. But flattering comments do not improve one’s skill as a photographer. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good stroke of the ego, but a simple stroke is not always enough information or direction for the photographer or artist to learn. What pushes and pulls the learning curve are detailed critiques of the photograph in front of you. What works, what doesn’t, where does the eye go, is there enough or too much, is it better in color or black and white? I like it should be the last thing you say. I find that if you are able to give a true critique of the work then it is easier to validate you’re like or dislike of the piece.

As a photographer I should only give a little to no explanation of the piece. I should have taken the time to create a photograph that should say it all without writing it down. Think about it, have you ever looked at a photograph by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston , Dorthea Lange and not get the message of what they are trying to say? For that matter just look at any top photographer’s work and you should see the message of their work. Isn’t that why we are creating photographs? To say something about what is important to us? As a creator of the photograph we should be crafting the work that makes the viewer think and feel what you feel. Your message whether big or small should be conveyed on the surface of the paper, otherwise it is just a snapshot.

So what has moved me to this stage in my work? I would have to say it is because I was not happy with all that I have created and I needed to change that. I am not consistent, focused or have a clear mission to my work. I just photograph one thing and move on to the next. I don’t always look at how I frame it, what I include or exclude in the frame. Are the lines, shapes, color or contrasts moving the eye around the piece? I have asked myself why am I rarely moved by my images in the same way I am moved by other photographers. I don’t feel bad about what I have or haven’t done, I just need more. I need to have at least my wife say “I want that on my wall.” Tidbit about my wife, she is very particular about photography. She has a background in portrait photography and had earned enough points at our company to be a Master Craftsman. (Points were based similarly to the PPA requirements) So, yes very hard to pass off crap or half crap to her.

Roughly two weeks ago I picked up a book by David DuChemin called “Photographically Speaking.” This book is a great review of all that is important in to what makes a great photograph. So far I have read about have the book and feel I need to start anew with my craft. It has challenged me to look at what I have created and define that work based off the rules of good design.

So I am on a photographic journey to improve my skills as a communicator in photography. I want to refine my skill as a photographer so the messages I send out are easily read by the viewer. I want to create a photograph that moves people to see what I see, feel what I feel, and explore farther or other directions then I had. I have one goal to complete in my life time with my work and I want to complete it. And if I continue to do what I have always done, I will not come anywhere near that goal. I will have failed and pass incomplete. I can’t do that and this is what I plan to do. First keep reading; this book is great and I recommend this to anyone. Second; blog about what I am learning. If you want to strengthen the skill you have learned, teach someone else. Third; create assignments that build on design principles taught in the book; Forth; create a flicker group that has assignments and critiques the work each. Through these steps I hope to get better at what I do as well as help others to do the same.

Keep you posted