My Philosophy on Photography:
First, my toughts
One cannot be a fine art photographer if they have not grappled with their philosophy of art, photography and emotions… life. On this page, I will slowly expand my writings on what my ever evolving philosophies are. At first, and perhaps forever, they may seem a bit disjointed, and that is so. I will write as I have time, and edit as views evolve. I will strive to congeal the ramblings into a cohesive, though fluid, thought process.
ON THE IMAGERY:
When I see something that tickles me in the back of my mind, that suggests in a soft voice that there is something here worth working… that there is a special-ness about this… I take note. I look. I try to see what it is that is pressing the chords that make the music in my mind. That says that there is something there in my minds eye about this scene. So I shoot. Adjust. Shoot. Adjust. Shoot… and…
The taking of the image is only the first step in conveying what I, as a photographer, am trying to express.. share. The image capture by my lens is the canvas on which I will paint, not in itself the final expression. The captured image is the foundation, the basis of what my ultimate work, my sharing of that specialness will be.
Humans have a way of taking out of what they see which is unnecessary. They mentally ignore what is perceived to be extraneous detail as they see the world around them. This is why you sometime cannot see what you are looking for even if you are looking right at it. The mind does not give attention to that which is outside of the point of focus, what draws your attention in your visual plane. (Scientifically it’s called “selective visual attention.”)
This is not true when looking at a photograph. Virtually all detail is observed and registers as present. The photograph is still, un-moving. All elements can (and will) be observed without movement or change, the viewers eye will seek to take in all the elements that compete for attention, jumping around if there is no flow or composition. This is one reason that those teaching art and photography always harp on “simplicity” and great composition.
This is also one reason I view the taken image as the baseline, and the final edited image as the goal. The goal is an image where distractions are minimized, where tools and elements are used to concentrate focus. The goal is an image offered to the viewer that is not the image in my viewfinder, but an image that accomplishes the goal of sharing the emotions I felt when I took the image. For the viewer, I have to reduce the image complexity, it’s distractions and distortions. Perhaps even more to strengthen it’s focal elements to make it feel like what I saw, much as our minds do when we view the world. I need to shape the visual weights, the balances, the tensions. I want it to look like the image in my mind with my eye deleting extraneous detail, and focusing on that subject that drew me in to start with. The final image is not necessarily what was actually there, but what I felt and want to share… created-edited in a way to make that possible.
So as the goal is to present the feeling, the emotion, the image as I wish it shared, I have no issue in substantial post-processing. These are the brushes I paint with on my image-canvas.
To me, I can remove unwanted distractions, move elements that create unwanted tension or conflicting focal points. I can enhance color and light to create in my viewer the reproduction of my feelings as I saw the image in my minds eye.
So, I need to take into account distractions. A telephone pole. A blade of grass over my subject. A cloud that draws my attention away. A heavily lit spot behind the rock that was the focus of my shot. An over bright highlight in a waterfall. A rock that if moved a few inches, would make the composition of my image more pleasing and more of what I was feeling when I saw the place.
We see the world in 3d. Our cameras, our images in 2d. I can walk around and see a scene, a potential shot, from all angles, and those will remain in my mind. But what I have to convey to my viewer, what I have to share, is one single 2d shot. I have to make that shot have the depth, contrast, highlights and shadows, color depth and intensity that I saw while walking around and seeing the site from many vantages. Seeing it with eyes that can read depth and contrast as no camera can.
This cannot be done “straight out of camera.” I have to take my best image(s) of the scene (usually picked from dozens I did) and manipulate, combine, massage till they come as close as I can to making you feel like I did as I strode about the site I shot.
I have no problem:
Deleting a branch or wire
Moving a rock
Placing a brightly colored leaf (Real time or in Photoshop)
Changing the colors
Flipping the image
Taking people out
Putting people in
Totally changing everything from the ground up because it’s not about representation. It’s about what you feel when you see what I created in my image.
I’m not a photojournalist.
As a fine art nature and landscape photographer, I am presenting my created images as visual, artistic interpretations of places I’ve seen and photographed. I wish to share that imagery in a manner that will evoke the emotions I wish to create in my viewer. As an artist, I own the artistic license to do what is required with and to that image in order to accomplish that, and too, have that responsibility.
Once my image is where I would like it to be… where I feel it will make you feel what I felt… I want to find ways to present that to you. Some of my works I do in framing methods that are very specific to the works, but most can be presented in any of many media. Framing is also a part of a final presentation, of what emotes.
I’ve been very fortunate to have had sharing and input from many fine photographers. I appreciate each of their inputs and lessons, and hope to give back some of what I’ve learned.
I welcome doing presentations and talks especially for beginning photographers. Please see my “Photo ShareShops” webpage for more information on the way we offer some programs for a mix of beginner and intermediate and even professional photographers. These will often be littered copiously with thoughts on the philosophies I seek to share.
Please feel welcome to express views below in “comments” that differ. This part of my site can be an open forum for comments. I will censor for vulgarity, but not delete any posts written in the spirit of learning.