Friday, July 08, 2016



I'm taking a class on photography.  The class is on looking at, and thinking about, photography, not about  -- as they put it in class -- "making photographs."

I am taking all of this with a pound of salt -- I want to just take the pics, not get tied up in knots thinking about it.  And I haven't got one nanosecond to spare for thinking about what some random "art critic" sort of person may think about what I do! 

But sometimes our instructor says something that holds my attention.

In the context of "the photograph is NOT the thing it's a picture of," we heard this:

"All photographers make choices, whether it's how you frame something on Instagram, what kind of camera you use, what kind of prints you make, how you share that picture. All of those choices make every photograph different from what it's a photograph of."

Well, ok, that's true, but......  Already being clear that a photograph is not the thing it portrays (ceci n'est pas une pipe, anyone?), I think it's much more interesting to look at this list and note that it is also about what distinguishes one photographer's work from another's.

Let's add "what we point the camera at," at the top of the list.  (And let's forget the part about printing them, because, really, how many pictures get printed these days?  Even the excellent ones?  [Surely we're not claiming that it's not art if it's not printed???])

Every photographer makes myriad choices in the process of making pictures.  From what we choose to capture, to where we position the camera in relationship to our subject, to how much light we like, or how much contrast we like, to whether we like to post-process or whether we prefer to fuss until we get it right, in the camera.....

Speculating about all of those choices, and about the effect they have on our end result -- I'm guessing that the more consciously we make choices, the more likely we are to get a result that pleases us.  And the more our body of work will be different from anyone else's, I bet.

(As I think about it, I suspect the paragraph above holds true for a lot more than photography!)

To reward you for getting to this point, here's a pic.  My daughter and I were in the same place at the same time, and both of us took essentially this same pic.  She posted it on Instagram before I did, and I was very surprised to see it, thinking "I didn't put that up yet!"  Then, of course, I realized that she and I took really similar pics.......

Once in a while she and I take "the same pic."  But not usually, even when we go to the same places, at the same time.  Usually we make different choices along the way between noticing something, to capturing the image, to sharing the image with others.......... 


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