I'm not really sure I ever thought about "why" before.
There are many reasons I shoot what I shoot. When I shoot wildlife, I do so for several reasons. Most of the time I'm somewhere where very few, if any, people are around, which is a definite plus. I've always been an outdoors person and it saddens me to see new strip malls and new neighborhoods by the dozens destroying our natural areas. I try to create a personal link between the animal and the viewer. I think (maybe naively so) that if people have a chance to see what we're killing them by killing their habitat they'll think twice about how humans are treating the world.
Black and white is another way I escape the grind of everyday life. I don't really know how to articulate it, but I have a sense of calm about me when I shoot b/w. The darkroom allows me to, once again, get away from it all and focus on bringing my ideas and thoughts out onto paper.
Searching my way to perplexion
We have had these discussions before and they ended up in discussions about the meaning and semantics of the word vision. But when considering the question why do you place the tripod where you do, I think it is really about what are the basic qualities in the subject that resonates with us. Those qualities can carry across a wide range of subject matter.
For myself I am more interested (or drawn to) form, volume and balance of tones in a scene than a particular subject. Tha is why a mountain of discarded heavy machinery can be just as captivating as a real mountain or a jumble of discarded cables and wires hanging down a wall as interesting as a wall covered with hanging vines. Also, growing up on the Great Plains you learn to look at details, abstractions and subtleties when you do not have the grand landscape to focus on.
A great deal of what our vision is probably determined in our youth from geographic and social experiences. One can go to photography or art school and try to escape those early influences, but I think they are always there, somehow coloring are vision towards are work today.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
Originally Posted by mrcallow
My pesonal work is a long term portrait project of my kids. I say portrait, now, but I conceived as a documetary project. It has evolved beyond the merely documentary. I find that sticking with the same subject matter, forces me to be experimental, so I don't keep making the same photographs over and over. It can get frustrating... there are times (like last winter where I felt I was incapable of making anything orginal!), but then, as you say, something will resonate, which leads me to the next small step in the process. This past summer has been incredibly productive shooting wise, I'm not sure it would have been without hitting that wall last winter. I feel that my work has taken a great big leap. It's exciting, but I'm mindful that I may hit that wall again.
Perhaps I've digressed into more the how's, than the why's. I try not to overanalyze the why's too much. Afterall, it's simple. Why photograph my kids, or anything else? It's just a gift to offer. Hopefully, a meaningful one.
There are as many answers as there are pictures.
I dont discuss vision because it cannot be quantified. Art begins where craft ends and your "vision" starts to develop once you are free from the shackles of methodology.
Unfortunately many get stuck in the testing phase (at least in B&W), ZS, BTZS, Picker Max black, etc, etc. Where having a beautifully printed photograph with 6 million gray tones becomes the goal, rather than having an interesting picture where the 6 million tones are just one of the tools to make the picture more interesting.
I dont think anybody can teach you how to "see," nor can we discuss our "vision" and explain why we like what we like or what is it that catches our attention, or I least I cant in written words.
Alternatively, you might go to a workshop and the instructor from experience might tell you "why dont you put the camera or focus this way" but this is no longer your vision, but theirs.
I have gone out with friends to photographs, we have been exactly at the same place, and then later on they show me a picture where my first thought was "dammit, how come I did not see that?"....... practice, practice, practice...is the only way to develop vision and cannot be taught, IMO.
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I agree with this. We are constantly learning the language to come up with our own sonnets.
Originally Posted by Jorge
Most of us are stuck in limericks where we merely transpose one set of words for another.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
All I know about my 'vision' (seems dreadfully pretentious) is that it is tied to the back brain and is non-verbal. All I do consciously is try to follow the hints until the 'signal' is strongest.
My uncle used to teach oil painting, and he was strongly of the opinion that he could teach anyone to paint, but not to see. I think that at best one learns some visual literacy, but there is the risk of producing pure cliche - 'Ah! this is a type 9c picture with a major and a minor diagonal.'
And this is just the motivation for producing the photograph. My experience is that people bring their own vision to the viewing process. It is a wonder any two people have a similar response to a photograph 8-)
I feel, therefore I photograph.
I don't shoot to please anyone but myself. Other than the occasional "pretty" picture I might take, I am more driven to explore vistas, manmade structures, etc to glimpse what is triggering some distant memory I have. Buried inside of me are many memories that some sight I see develops into a nebulous vision of what was part of that memory. (pull the hip waders on at this point it is getting deep) It's not so much trying to tell a story as it is to give voice to what is in my head about the scene before me and the memories. No matter how many times some professor, workshop teacher, or just well meaning photographer tries to guide me in their path, I always go back to the things that trigger my responses. I do not have a herd mentality. I am not one who blindly follows what others do or tell me what to do. If no one likes what I do, then that is fine as well. It's part of why I normally do not post in the gallery.
Ahhh! This is the APUG I love. A parallel is music. Maybe twice or 3 times a year I'll come upon a piece in my listening that strikes a chord in me. In the dark room I'll rewind over and over to take it in. Sometimes my throat will get thick and my eyes will tear up with the experience. Music is a shunt to my soul. I want to make photographs that will have that effect to some viewers. Certainly I'll never know who or when or why. I don't have the gene to create or sadly even play music like that, but what if my photographs could touch a chord from time to time in others. Only a partial answer to the "why"
The only meaningful way I have found to discuss my "vision" is to show pictures. If I could describe my "vision" in words I would have taken up poetry instead of photography
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist