In pursuit of something

Posted on 13 Mar ’09 by Earl

The Hard and the Soft of It

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.

What Others Are Saying

  1. Steve Skinner 13 Mar ’09 at 7:15 pm

    I have always thought it more important to photograph things that I found to be fun or interesting. To me, it’s just a waste of time making photographs of something that will only make a “great photo”. I somehow need to be connected.

  2. Earl 13 Mar ’09 at 8:08 pm

    @Steve: I agree there needs to be that connection. But that’s not to say I won’t go the extra yard to make the best photo I can. :-)

  3. Mark 13 Mar ’09 at 9:59 pm

    I suppose we all dive in deeper to examine why it is that we photograph the subject that we do. I try to be wary of the way I am “supposed to think” while in the field, but ultimately go with my gut most of the time also!

  4. Earl Moore 13 Mar ’09 at 11:30 pm

    @Mark: I try not to dive in so deep I can’t get back to the surface for air but I do like to understand my own motivations.

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