Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 22, 2014

Years ago we traveled along the West Coast of the United States in a motorhome. We did travel east a bit as we planned interesting subjects I wanted to shoot and subjects my photo agencies wanted me to shoot as well.  We would usually stay a minimum of a week in each place, but sometimes depending upon weather and subjects we could stay much longer. As a photographer, this allowed me time to absorb the terrain of the city and countryside and find those unusual subjects that are both personal and fun to photograph.
One of the places we visited was Palm Springs. One day, I was scouting areas east of Palm Springs and ended up on Dillon road. The road started out normal but as you traveled along you would come to these up and down hills along the highway and if you pushed the speed up a bit your stomach would begin to float as if you were rising up on a small plane. You really couldn't go too fast because as you came to the top of one the hills you never knew if a car was down in the dip.  Immediately I knew my daughter, who was around two years old at the time, would love this road.  So I went and got the family and we went on a roller coaster ride in the deserts of Palm Springs.

Another fun spot was the dinosaur park off Interstate 10, northwest of Palm Springs. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 16, 2013

Human identity is changing rapidly in this no holds barred social media frenzy of content and more content.  We are losing touch with the sacredness of the ordinary life our ancestors revealed through hard work and human sentiment.  

By being quick to judge, interpret, and take photographs, we are limiting our ability to learn and understand a photographers purpose in creating an internal image and our connection to that purpose.

Expressing emotions is both physical and verbal.  When we see a person crying we react and think, oh, what has happened.  This physical representation is just a moment in time and we assume certain things have happened to this person and that is why the tears.  But what is really going on down underneath this persons physical presence? When that same person begins to laugh, we think those tears were not tears of pain but tears of happiness. We missed a moment before the tear event that would have given us this clue.

In still photography the image is yanked out of its time sequence and we the viewer can become disoriented wondering what the meaning  of the photograph we are looking at is.

We need to relate more personally to the image in order to see the clues the photographer is giving us.  What symbols is the image creator using to connect the photograph with the viewer on a more intimate level.

When you look at an image, do you ever truly see the photographers real motives, his emotions, the why an image was taken in the first place?  With scenic images, we know that the photographer saw a beautiful setting and decided to take a picture of it.  But why did the photographer choose a certain composition over another?  Why did this particular scenic image succeed and that other one fail?

When a photograph grabs us emotionally, we become attached somehow to the image creators impression of a scene.  The image holds our interest and we can sit and contemplate the information given.  But we still don't know all that is going on in that photograph.  We start by exploring the surface meaning of the photograph (color, perspective, composition etc..). This is not a fast paced sprint but a meandering over the two dimensional surface of the image, studying the subject looking for details that at first we were missing.

If the photographer connects with us on a deeper level through his photograph, then we are able to get a better gestalt of the images purpose and find a meaning for ourselves that might not be exactly what the image creator expressed, but allowed us to connect to the image on a deeper, more personal level. 

This inner world under the surface of things is what I believe makes a great photo come alive.  It is hard to dig deeper into a scene pulling out details that represent an inner expression, if it was shot casually.  Casual photographs are okay, they give us a moment in time, a fashion statement easily forgotten.  But what we are looking for, hungry for, is a true depth that creates a conversation between the creator of the image and its viewer ie: can you see me truly, see my image as a reflection of my inner world and perhaps represent a part of you as well.

I think that photographers that wrestle with this inner expression and outer detail are battling the good fight for better images and an evolving in themselves to make better more personal images with a broader appeal.

Composition/Technique alone can not bring life into a subject that has no relationship with the photographer creating the image.  Without a relationship of some kind with the scene you only have a shallow two dimensional record of a reality that is just surface reflections only, without depth and the ability to connect with your viewer.

Technique can only go so far in allowing us to express ourselves photographically.  Composition is important but so are the details that become symbols of our inner fears, doubts, happiness. etc...that the photographer can add to his scene that make or break the image.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 16, 2014

A few years ago we had a family of moles  digging in our back yard.  Each morning new mounds would rise.  These moles were in worm heaven and were very content crisscrossing my yard with their tunnel waste making traps for unsuspecting worms that fell into the narrow passages.  Just for a humorous image I stuck an American flag at the top of one such mole hill.  I was surrendering my territory to them and giving up the battle.

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014

Bill Brandt, photographer, wrote: "Composition is very important, but I believe it is largely a matter of instinct. There are text-book rules on the subject, but they are likely only to result in stereotyped pictures.  They hamper any one's native imagination".

There are no easy formulas that guarantee the creation of good imagery.  Experimentation gives you choices.  Do I like that result or not?  If not, why not?  What draws you to certain subjects and not others?  Am I getting myself in a rut shooting the same subjects over and over again?  All these questions help you determine your creative direction and pushes you to break out of your limited shooting environment.

When you first come upon a subject that hits you with interest, stop, slow down and take in the entire scene.  Don't wander off helter-skelter,  shooting everything just so you might hit on an acceptable image. Take your time, take a deep breath and explore the subject that attracted you.  Go below the surface reality that is present, don't succumb to its calling. Find your inner patience to allow the subject to reveal itself on a deeper level.

Use your intuition as you begin to explore and exhaust those first moments of inner excitement.  Once your mind begins to slow down and is calm, that is the time to really study your subject and begin looking for those angles and perspectives that will lead you to a deeper, more personal exposure rather than those run and gun images that have become standard operating procedure on social media.

When I come upon a subject that interests me, I usually begin with an environmental image first.  This calms my mind and gives me a visual layout of the landscape.  I always feel better once I have begun the exploration process and have taken that first image,  it becomes a "good to go" moment for me.  I then begin to zero in on my true subject as my intuition rises above the outer chatter.  I move closer and closer to the subject I wanted to shoot (both literally and figuratively) and begin to connect with what drew me to this subject in the first place.  I can reverse this as well. I can get closer to the initial perception and then feeling something isn't working, move back and explore the subject from further away.  Maybe the subject needed a bigger environment to contrast with.

Photography gives you a license to experiment and enjoy the full process from initial interest in a subject to your final exposure that captures your inner sight.