Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Fire and Ice

There’s a train of thought among certain photographers (or more correctly, photograpy oriented bloggers) that goes something like this:  You don’t need to create images of the spectacular or the unusual or the unique to be considered a “good” photographer.  (I’m purposely not going to use the term “artist” here because, quite honestly, I don’t know what that means.)  The key, they say, to being good is to have an intense interest in what you’re photographing (“passionate” is a popular term) and to photograph it often.   That means, of course, that the subject matter you choose needs to be readily available.  Here’s where it gets a little dicey, I think.  The best way to insure that subject matter is “readily available” is to photograph stuff that is close to home and common.

Fire and Ice

All you have to do, in other words, is walk out the front door and start shooting.  At the very worst, there might be a short drive involved.   You can then take about a zillion pictures of flowers or dogs or rotting fruit and call it a “project”.  It won’t matter if nobody looks at this stuff because you are, after all, creating “art”.

Now, am I the only one who thinks this is a bunch of smelly ka-ka?  If I go to someone’s website and see what is essentially the same image over and over again, isn’t it possible that I might begin to wonder about that person’s level of creativity?  If the only difference between the current image and the last one is the type of flower presented or its location in the frame or the depth of field behind it, why would anyone think that this one is going to grab my attention?  What’s different about it?

Frankly, if yesterday’s image was of a snow covered fern, then I’d personally prefer it if today’s image was something very, very different.  Geez, try to surprise me just a little bit, please.

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2 Responses to “Fire and Ice”

  1. Markus Spring

    Hmm. Food for thought…
    I guess a lot depends on the reason one is publishing in a blog. Being similar to a diary, the purpose of a blog can for sure be to accompagny, document and publish a process, here the process of creating. This process can consist of variations of the same subject, and this can be valuable when showing development (to the better).
    But the tenor of this discussion about projects is in my eyes the development of personal perseverance in becoming good at something, in experiencing a subjects and ways of seeing, percieving, and showing it. This is the contrary of subject hopping (of which I am guilty, at least sometimes) and a superficial search for wow shots you and I have probably seen already too much.
    I saw that you link ‘the landscapist’ here. That certainly is a blog showing a very personal style, both in written as in photographic language (not that I understand always the one and/or the other). In my eyes this is a blog about the process, about the development, and I very well acknowledge his consistency in his postings. Many other blogs do show variety, not always to the better.
    Your blogging style seems to tend more toward showing ‘best results’ of your photographic work. It’s one of the reasons I look at it quite often, and I would definitely not ask to change this style. So to everybody his peculiar photographic and blogging style.
    Commenting in your new blog now is substantially easier. What I miss a bit is the large format of the pictures you sported in your old one. Maybe a modification in this respect is possible.

    Reply
  2. Andreas Manessinger

    As always, there’s more than one way to see it. In general I’d second Markus.

    As regarding my own blog, due to the daily shooting, it would be more or less impossible to stick to one subject, although there are certainly things that come over and over again, the Carinthian mountainscapes or the bicycles. But it’s not only that. Sticking to a project for a long time (months or years) would bore me to death. I simply can’t do it. Not all that I do is good, some is, but the variation is what keeps me productive and creative, what lets me find new interesting things once in a while.

    An example are the shots through some glass, focused on the glass itself, dirt or ice sticking to the glass pane, with the landscape or cityscape behind becoming vague. This is something that I discovered recently by simply doing. Whenever something like that happens, I feel that there is great potential, but I have no real handle yet. I need to explore the concept further.

    When I began my blog, I did not care about subjects and styles. I don’t even now. I mainly want to produce a substantial body. I guess those things that interest me and that turn out to be visually expressable will accumulate to something bigger all by themselves.

    And it’s not only subject matter, it’s processing style as well. Personally I like to experiment. That may narrow down to a style some day, but I don’t expect it to do so anytime soon. As Markus mentioned Mark Hobson, well, Mark is an exception. I have no idea if 30, 40 years of photography (if I manage to get to that point in my lifetime) will narrow me down to a visual style, but if anything can, that has to be it. Mark is not only an exception because he adheres to a strict style, he also manages to do so with infinite variety. I’m always amazed about that, and I have found myself thinking thoughts like “How would Mark see that?”. This is not common for me, but with Mark it happens.

    Reply

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