Photographer rambles and looks for purpose in life.
Warning: I'm writing this page mostly for myself: so if you are part of the
younger trendy generation with limited MTV attention span, please click off this page for your own sanity and text
message someone. If not keep reading and try to look at the full picture of your career as a
Somehow rambling and looking for purpose in life seem to be concepts at odds with each other. Yet this is
what most of us do when we get into the latter part of life where we search for something to justify our existence.
I hope as I ramble along about what I have done and haven't done and where I'm looking to go, you will look at your
life and see what purpose in your life you can find as a photographer.
As a person who has retired from a career(Security-Police), I'm at a different stage of my life than a
much younger photographer. I know I will never make big time bucks in this field not only because of my age, but
mainly because there is more to me than photography, and frankly, I don't have the energy. My main motivation and
what keeps me excited in life is when I am involved in the creative process of crafting a photograph from the first
click on the camera to the last save on my computer. I want to make pictures that are always one step beyond
what I am currently doing. I know I am an artist, a quality I didn't realized until I was half way through my 50's
when I sat down without a spit of experience and wrote a novel. Still waiting for someone to publish it, but that
is not the point. The point is I never thought I could do something like that until I spent time trying to write a
novel. Whether most of my photographs are crap or not is not what drives me: when I craft a photograph the
creative process in me is alive and kicking. Once you have experienced the joy of the creative process,
it is like a drug that you just can't get enough of. If you, as a photographer, have gotten past the technique and
equipment phase, than what I am saying is nothing new. If you haven't than keep looking eventually something will
churn inside of you and you will have to create a picture, because that is what you do - you are a
When I take a picture, I try to keep things as simple as possible. I usually use the spot meter on my camera.
When I shoot a person, I usually meter for a piece of skin without highlights or shadows. When I shoot landscape
pictures, I look for a middle tone. Lately, I have been shooting a lot of HDR type pictures where you need to take
at least three different exposures of the same exact scene. If I have a person in one of these pictures, I just
shoot one exposure and when I process my raw file, I make two additional files and adjust the briteness control to
a plus or minus. If I need to put part of my photo in out of focus, I wait until I am in Perfect Photo focus
control. You can always blur part of your photo, but what are you going to do if you decide that you don't want to
put part of your photo in super bokeh.
Can we have content without technique?
Can we have great technique without content? Technique can be learned, but content comes from not only what we
have learned but how we have applied a little bit of knowledge into our how the world works point of
view. The more we look at the world with the desire to learn the more content keeps on forcing us
to learn some technique.
Yes when we announce to the world that yes, "I am a photographer" we know that what we do is more than snapping
a picture. Any moron can do that! But do we really understand that it is more then technique, our sexy equipment
and the workshops we have attended(hopefully you will attend one of mine) It is really about who we are; the
filters we use to look at life and where we have been that defines the scope of the pictures we will take. What I
mean is that photography is an art form. Like any type of art the finished product is as much about the
photographer as the subject if you are indeed an artist. Even the basic act of cropping a picture involves making
decisions about what is needed in the picture and what is crap.
I like pictures that are intricate. A lot of my pictures look pretty simple. First their is a protagonist that
draws your eye into the picture. Secondary elements like trees, animals or even furniture support the main element
of the picture. However a closer look at the picture may reveal a specific message that I am trying to communicate.
The third element of the picture is where I want to play with the viewers mind. What I am I trying to communicate?
I don't know, so how could the viewer know, whatever the viewer thinks the picture is about that is what it is
about. Have I ever produced a picture that has all three elements? I'll never tell!
To hold one's attention a photograph must have something to give. It must have
meaning. It must be informative, educational, exciting, amusing, or inspiring. In the end the viewer has to
connect with the picture, otherwise it is nothing more than a snapshot.
The below experience wasn't written about to just vent about a slight
from another photo contest. The real point is about how you view the picture. Do you like the picture? Do you like
the frame and understand how the light above adds to the symbolism of the picture? It not, no need to further
look at my site. As you can see I liked the picture enough to put it on my living room wall. But I can also
see that this type of picture may be thought of as pretentiousness masquerading as art.
If you want to grow as an artist you have to find at least some people who get what you are trying to do,
otherwise you are on your way to insanity. The picture on the left was entered into the A.E.Backus Museum's
Juried(who the jurors are is still a mystery) Photography Show in Fort Pierce. The museum is dedicated to the late
landscape painter A.E. Backus and to a group of painters he mentored who are also landscape painters and who are
collectively known as 'The Highwaymen'. Despite what I might say later on this page, I have learned from artists
like Backus, The Highwayman and diverse artists like Picasso, Salvador Dali and Rembrandt. Things like how
they handle light on their scenes how do they use composition to arrange the elements, including major and minor
elements in their pictures. If their is more than one person in their picture how do they position their subjects
to express relationships. How do they use color and gradients of color to express mood or lack of. When I entered
the picture I knew my picture might not be accepted because it was a little edgy and the title, 'Three Days in Rio'
added to the edginess of the picture. I created a picture that people would notice from a distance and hopefully to
go over and look at the title. I wanted people to fill in their own storyline as they looked at the picture and
read the title. Obviously this picture isn't about a National Geographic photographer looking to make the
mean streets of Rio look pretty. How dark and erotic the storyline of this picture depends on what types of
filters you view life though. Some people may see this picture as pointless and why did he have to ruin a perfectly
good nude picture, others will look at the picture read the title and get little flashes coming from their
subconscious about what they would like to be doing during three days in Rio.
The picture was rejected by the show. Like everything else in the art world no
reason was given as to why the picture was rejected. When I thought about this later, I knew the picture wasn't
rejected on the merits of the picture as not meeting the standards of having the wrong frame or poor picture
quality(not in focus, confusing composition or poor exposure etc.). No, my picture was rejected because of
content. I can live with that. I just wish they would have spelled out in their otherwise comprehensive guide
to photographers, my type of content wasn't wanted. Art as always is in the hands of the viewer some will
look at the above picture and get something from it, others will see pretentiousness and pointless wastes of time.
I once saw a urinal with a light shining on it, this was suppose to be a great work of performance art.
All I ever saw was a urinal that wasn't getting used.
In my early days I never thought of photography as part of the creative process, but
as a record of something that happened in a frozen very short period of time. I wasn't looking for art, I
was looking for truth. See something, quickly compose the picture, use the right exposure and hope that a
little slice of the way the world works would shine off of my picture.
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