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Stephanie Brim

A Photographic Philosophy

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by , 04-25-2008 at 04:05 PM (1444 Views)
I've spent a lot of time lately reflecting on my rather different philosophy when it comes to photography. I haven't had enough time to shoot lately, what with the SO working overtime and the baby needing my attention, so I've been thinking more and more about why I shoot the way I do.

I can't really put most of my photography into one set genre. I don't try to classify it. I shoot what I see, when I see it, sometimes for many reasons and sometimes for no reason at all. I use expired film most of the time, I prefer cameras older than myself by a good many years, and I tend not to listen to what the people around me are trying to teach me about photography. A lot of what I shoot wouldn't be classified by others as interesting, but I find it so and can't really explain why.

I think the main draw to film for me is that there is the ability to actively experiment with different variables. Expired film, beat-up lenses, cross processing, different formats, different chemicals... It's an experimental person's dream.

Of course, none of these experiments I'm doing are scientific. Most are creative.

I think of it this way, I think.

Photography is supposed to be fun. It is about using what you have to make images your proud of. Being a mom full time, without a job, money is tight and I use what I have. Cheap plastic cameras, the borrowed Crown Graphic, a 'cheap' SLR, homemade pinhole monstrosities garbled together from other cameras, Ebay bargains, Salvation army finds...

I'm not bitter about this, either. What makes a good photograph isn't about what you use, but about the person behind the camera. It's about how you use what you have to create what you want. For me, it's about the freedom to experiment as I please, to fly by the seat of my trousers, and to screw up five thousand times to get one good image. I don't mind. The journey is just as important to me as the destination. Generally, the destination at least proves interesting if not exactly what I wanted in the first place.


  1. Steve Bellayr's Avatar
    Salvation Army finds are great. I found an OM-1 mint with lens for $7. Also, Nikon L35. Olympus Mjiu. Canonet Ql-17 etc. though none were primary shooters but exceptional. As a new mother the only advice I can give to you is that "no matter how many photos you take it will not be enough." Another thing photographers are notorious for being poor evaluators of their work and pitiful analyzers. Its not the camera or film: It is the image.
  2. colrehogan's Avatar
    I had a co-worker bring in an OM-1 with a lens and some misc. other stuff and asked me if I wanted it. He was going to throw it away in the lab if I didn't want it. The camera was like new and came with the instruction manual (in German). He is from Germany originally.
  3. bowzart's Avatar
    You are addressing The Issue that almost nobody ever approaches.

    Product vs. Process.

    The basic difference is that "a photograph" is a sort of commodity, a material object, and, as such, passive. When you have made it, you can put it in a box.

    You seem to be interested in something very different from that, and like what most interests me: photography as a verb, an active process, done without undue regard for what is going to result from the activity. How do you know what is going to result? Do you need to know, or is the activity a process of discovery?

    The result, if "successful" might be regarded as a gift, or a surprise, and if really successful, maybe even a miracle.

    Along the way, there will be a lot of what others may regard as "failures" but for the process worker, each of these represents something learned. There are no failures.

    Good for you, Stephanie! You have revealed yourself as a traveller on the golden road. You are an alchemist!



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