This will probably be a matter that many of you have considered and resolved for yourself. For that reason, I will share with you what my recent thoughts and considerations regarding photography and it's application as an art form.
For many years photography has been to me a matter of "telling a story" whether that be the depiction of a mountain stream, a stand of aspens, a waterfall, or even an old building. I worked hard at refining technique to provide the tonal range that I envisioned as being "appropriate". As I critique my images today I find that they were mostly about "things".
Some years ago I encountered the work of Brett Weston...to be quite honest I initially was put off by the empty blacks that he printed in some of his images. More recently I encountered the work of Edward Weston at a showing in Fort Worth, Texas. Once again I was put off by the heaviness with which those images were printed. In fact I commented on this with some others privately.
I have come to a point recently of recognizing that there was something inherently captivating to me about the images of both of these photographers. I also found that same ingredient was involved in the work of Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee, in my experience. It took me awhile to sort out what that ingredient was.
What I have come to realize is that rather then telling a story by photographing "things" the images of the photographers that I have mentioned are asking me a question. They are addressing the nature of things as opposed to the thing itself. That is what draws me into their images. There is an inherent sense of "mystery" involved with these images. In other words they tell me only "part of the story" to paraphrase Paul Harvey.
This sense of mystery is conveyed with the empty blacks of Brett Weston, the heavy printing of Edward Weston, and the complex visual images of Michael and Paula.
To me when I look at an Adams landscape...I am initially struck by the beauty of the image...but I am not captivated in the same way. Maybe this is a personal thing but for myself I think that I will begin attempting to depict the "mystery" of life. To begin to capture the nature of "things" that I have failed to observe before, to ask the questions that I have not taken the time to formulate.
I would appreciate your comments about this.