Quotes to Ponder: #0009

‘Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried.’

~ Bill Brandt

Brandt wrote this in response to his feelings about the limitations and conventions that so many photographers adopt within their own work, even those adopted by other important photographers of his own time.

Having just finished the series of entries here on “What If”, one might consider that this quote is one that I consider a truth with regards to photography—or any creative effort, for that matter.  And I do, to a point.

As I have noted here before, quoting others isn’t, and shouldn’t be, presented to prove a point but rather as a catalyst for deeper thought and questioning.

So while this quote certainly resonated within me, it immediately made me think about the limitations that I place on my working methods.  Early on, I adopted a lot of conventions and limitations and those were also how I viewed the work of others.  As my confidence and abilities with the medium improved, which included increasing my awareness of what was possible and thinking about those other possibilities, I found many of those limitations melted away.  A part of that “widening” was delving deeper into what others were doing and being blown away by the work that didn’t fit within those limitations.  At times, it wasn’t even connecting with what another was doing but a willingness to consider that other way of approaching one’s work.

Today, I still put limitations on what I do but I generally consider these important parts of the process and specific to the project at hand.  When they get in the way or prevent me from going where I want to go, then I reevaluate whether they are truly relevant to the work or arbitrary.  In such cases, I am most likely going to break through the limitation, create the work and worry about how it fits, or doesn’t, later—it might spawn a new “What If” if done or be lost if abandoned.

The point, really, is that we should always be questioning why we do things the way we do.  Our standards and practices have a bearing on who we are as photographers but they also can hold us back from reaching our potential especially when they are arbitrary or applied arbitrarily.

In an upcoming entry, I will be exploring Bill Brandt’s work as  “A Photographer to Know”.Dr15_0054_66v3

(“Quotes to Ponder” will be a regular feature here. My philosophy about quotes isn’t that they prove any point as they are often taken out of context or they may have been said in response to something we have no way of knowing about. But they generally do embody some sort of opinion or thought that can often be worthwhile pondering. I expect that in many cases, they will be the teaser to a longer discussion of their idea in a later post!)

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Quotes to Ponder: #0007

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

 

~ Marcel Proust

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I hadn’t actually planned to make a post today but I saw this quote posted by my nephew on Facebook.  It seemed perfect now that we have ended the “Looking at Photographs” series.  Perfect because like so many things in life, we often pursue “new” things when there are, in fact, so many things to be discovered right in front of us if we only take time to look.

The series was about how we can gain new insights when looking at a photograph or other artwork by trying to understand things outside of our awareness or just that quick glance.  Learning about the Context of an image, why it was made and what is important to the artist; Describing what is actually within the image, recognizing the little things that can be pointers to further understanding; and then the Analysis of the structure of an image, what visual clues do we have in the way an image has been constructed.  These things can all bring a new awareness to something we thought we understood.

As photographers we have an opportunity to show the others new or alternative ways of looking at the world.  To present our unique way of seeing and to let others see what is important to us.  We don’t have to constantly be chasing after new places or where we think we can find our next great photograph.  We can simply start looking at things in new ways, ways that are meaningful to us.  Doing so can only end in the creation of meaningful photographs.

(“Quotes to Ponder” will be a regular feature here. My philosophy about quotes isn’t that they prove any point as they are often taken out of context or they may have been said in response to something we have no way of knowing about. But they generally do embody some sort of opinion or thought that can often be worthwhile pondering. I expect that in many cases, they will be the teaser to a longer discussion of their idea in a later post!)

Quotes to Ponder: #0006

“One should not only photograph things
for what they are
but for what else they are.”

 

~ Minor White

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With our exploration of the Idea complete, I thought I would start a series about how Idea plays a role in my photography, both personally and commercially–a series of case studies, if you will.

This quote from Minor White expresses a good deal about my own objectives with photography and how I look to find something beyond just subject or documentation.  In fact, I am often less interested in what something is than what it becomes when photographed–and then how it digs down inside of the psyche.  We will look at how this can translate into various work, even when there is a primary focus that might seem at odds with such a personal interpretation of what one’s photography is all about.

Tomorrow I will post the first case study.

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(“Quotes to Ponder” will be a regular feature here. My philosophy about quotes isn’t that they prove any point as they are often taken out of context or they may have been said in response to something we have no way of knowing about. But they generally do embody some sort of opinion or thought that can often be worthwhile pondering. I expect that in many cases, they will be the teaser to a longer discussion of their idea in a later post!)

Quotes to Ponder: #0005

“I begin by not photographing”

~Jeff Wall

In our discussions about The Idea: Part 1 and Part 2 we have focused on how idea plays into our immediate response to things we see.  Here, Jeff Wall presents a different way of approaching the creation of a photograph, one that is not too different from how a commercial photograph is made.

In Part 3 of The Idea, which will be posted later this week, we will be exploring various ways idea plays within the photographic process and reconciling the “more animalistic” approach Henry Wessel described to this seemingly contradictory style that Jeff Wall employs.

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(“Quotes to Ponder” will be a regular feature here. My philosophy about quotes isn’t that they prove any point as they are often taken out of context or they may have been said in response to something we have no way of knowing about. But they generally do embody some sort of opinion or thought that can often be worthwhile pondering. I expect that in many cases, they will be the teaser to a longer discussion of their idea in a later post!)

Quotes to Ponder: #0004

“For technical data—
the camera was faithfully used.”

~ Minor White

Lotus #786One of the things we tend to hear about and discuss the most is our equipment.  Which camera, lens, tripod etc should we be using or getting?

On Tuesday, I will present what I believe–and am confident you will agree (at least in time)–is the definitive answer to this question.

See you Tuesday!

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(“Quotes to Ponder” will be a regular feature here. My philosophy about quotes isn’t that they prove any point as they are often taken out of context or they may have been said in response to something we have no way of knowing about. But they generally do embody some sort of opinion or thought that can often be worthwhile pondering. I expect that in many cases, they will be the teaser to a longer discussion of their idea in a later post!)