How do I Make Pictures?
Art in General
A photograph is a frozen two dimensional representation of a slice of time and because of this it is an abstraction of reality. Our minds give the photograph more or less degrees of reality. Picasso was commissioned to do a portrait of a lady. The patron chided Picasso and said that his representation was not at all like his wife. Picasso asked how he thought she looked. The client took a picture from his wallet and handed it to Picasso. Picasso held the picture and said, “Oh, that small?” One should never forget a photograph is an abstraction.
In the past, photography for the most part was a subtractive art form. We selected what should be in the picture and excluded what shouldn’t. This was mainly done before the shutter was tripped. While much could be done in the darkroom, there were practical limits which made pre-visualization necessary. Within these constraints there has been some brilliant work done. With the advent of digital and the ability for easy manipulation, photography can now move into an additive art from. Now a photographer can be as free in their creativity as any traditional artist.
A photograph is a dialogue among subject, artist, and viewer. The subject exists and the artist sees something within the subject. What he sees is very personal as no two people see quite the same things. The artist then translates what he sees in his mind to something tangible. This is presented to an audience which may be big or small. How the work affects the viewer determines the value of the work. If it creates no emotion it fails. The emotion may not be a positive one, but it must be what the artist intended or the value of the piece is just based on luck.
I shoot alone! I am very gregarious and I find that the company of others is often a distraction when I shoot. I always carry a camera!
For me the final image is the goal and before I trip the shutter I have a destination in my mind. I have an idea of what I am going to shoot even before I set out. Because I know what I am after I take only the equipment I need. If I carry too much equipment I am offered too many options and my productivity drops. Before I set out, I set all my camera settings to neutral just in case I have something set inappropriately from my last shoot. I work quickly but methodically; I walk around my subject, viewing it from many angles until I find the one I want, and that is what I take. I suspect this method loses me some images but I have found that works best for me. The fact is I try to shoot every day but only manage to shoot about 18 frames a day; of course, that is an average. Once done I reset my camera to neutral, sort of belt and braces.
When I arrive home I store and catalogue my shoot and I then manipulate the images I want, bringing them to how I saw them in my mind, and then show them. Once this process is done I tend to lose interest in the image and move on to the next shoot.
I like feedback, positive or negative. Feedback influences how I make my next pictures. I really shouldn’t let it; instead I should just listen to my own heart and head, but I am human. Critiques are not all given the same value; if I really respect a photographer’s work, their comments have a greater impact than someone’s whose work I am not familiar with.
In the end I am a generalist, that is always pushing my boundaries, and while this is all good for me I suspect someone that specializes and pushes a process to new levels is far better off.