The Hard and the Soft of It
Ansel Adams is supposed to have famously said that there is “nothing worse than a sharp photograph of a fuzzy conept.” Without some meaningful proposition inherent or implied, a photograph is a mere trinket.
Let me rein in my horse just a bit: Photographs need not be about life and death, need not be deep philosophical truths, need not be overly burdened with assertions about the meaning of life. However, I suggest that they do need to be about something. – Brooks Jensen, LensWork No. 81
I’ve spent time and thought considering the above statements and how much a part these ‘somethings‘ figure into my photography. Perhaps here, at least in part, lies the difference between a snap-shot and a photograph–being about something.
I’m sure these somethings don’t always have meanings recognizable beyond the original photographer. Indeed, a something may be deeply personal.
I’ll shoot a scene that appeals to me, has something, even if at that moment I’m uncertain what it is. I’ll go with my gut feelings, trusting experience and technical skills to capture the scene as best I can. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes not.
I don’t like to over analysis on the front end but in post processing I’ll spend a good deal of time determining why I find a photo appealing and what is the something that drove me to take it. I don’t always come away with a clear perception but the more work I do in this area the more it translates to a better understanding of myself, my inspirations and inherently my photography.
At this stage of my life, photography is an avenue for personal self-discovery and the somethings of my photos reflect that. I’m sure my approach would be different if I was a commercial/professional photographer, or even a younger one just starting out.
But, we are who we are so I’ll keep pursuing my own somethings in my own way at my own pace.