TALKING IMAGES 1 – ART WOLFE

 

 

I’m not a vastly knowledgeable photographer, and especially so when it comes to the more intricate areas of digital.  However, much of what I do know has been gleaned from the UK’s Amateur Photographer (AP) magazine, which I subscribe to.

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My method is simple.  I read, re-read and dip back into each weekly issue, and highlight anything that I find of especial interest or use.  I then tear out the pages with the highlightings and keep them.  Occasional leafings through this accumulating pile of knowledge and interest both refreshes my mind, and consigns anything no longer of interest to the recycling bin.

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And in AP (and elsewhere too, I must stress), I come across things that talk – even sing – to me, and I want to pass some of these on, with or without commenting on them.  And hence to this new Category – Talking Images – on FATman Photos.  If all goes well, these posts will appear occasionally.  I hope you will find them of interest.  If they stimulate thought or debate, they will have achieved their aim.

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And, finally, before I get into this, I wholeheartedly recommend AP to you.  It costs £2.95 per week and covers a very wide range of topics that include film as well as digital.  There are in-depth reviews of new equipment and very helpful articles on technique, letters from readers, rants, articles by all kinds of photographers – you name it!

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And Roger Hicks, certainly my out and out favourite photojournalist – someone who has written more wise and astoundingly relevant words than I’ll ever be able to get my head round – now writes Final Analysis, which looks at all kinds of photographs in ways that, for me at least, leave the rest of the mag standing.  Just as, indeed, I feel that AP leaves the rest of the UK’s photo mags standing.

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And so,

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Art Wolfe

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Art Wolfe is an renowned photographer of the natural world and traditional peoples: 40 years’ experience, 80+ books, TV series, two million images.  Here are three things he mentioned in an interview with AP (27 Sept 2014 issue).

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“I now look at the subject in much more graphic terms, I detach myself from the fact that I might be looking at wildlife, culture or landscape, and I start to see it in terms of graphic elements – positive and negative space, balance, the subtleties that people often don’t see because they’re so engaged with the subject.  I don’t spend any more time photographing than I did before; I just go straight to the point.  I look at form first and subject second.  I’m also less concerned about the technical perfection of a digital capture and more concerned with the gut reaction that people have to an image.”.

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Well, there it is.  When he’s taking a picture, Art thinks first about the graphical entities he sees  in the frame – the shapes there, the lines, the empty spaces, etc. – and the composition they are all a part of – and only then does he consider what the picture is actually showing, what the subject matter is.  And he’s more concerned about how an image will hit you, what gut feelings it will give you, than in the niceties of digital capture >>> ABSOLUTE HERESY!!! you may scream  but I know for sure that I’d rather have something with hitting power, no matter how technically imperfect, than I’d have a technically perfect, visual nonentity.   And going one step further, if conditions for photography are atrocious and I have a choice between poor quality or no photo at all, I’m for poor quality every time >>> and the result may well appear on this blog >>> and no, before you say it >>> not ALL of the photos on this blog were conceived in those circumstances!!! ……

I first heard of this graphical approach in John Shaw’s Landscape Photography (1994; ISBN 0-8174-3710-X); he called it “Photo-Graphics”.  I don’t know if this book is still in print, but its certainly a very useful read.

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“… if you become too pleased with your work and sedentary, its the kiss of death.  Therefore, I’ve always evolved my work, never sitting happily with what I’ve achieved but always moving it forward, pushing things a little further.”.

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Absolutely agree.  I’m not at one with much modern idiom but >>> don’t stay in your comfort zone all the time!

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“People get demoralised because of the negative news.  I tell people, once in a while, ‘Turn off the goddamn news, and go out for a walk in a forest and reconnect with nature.”‘.

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Wow, no doubt about that >>> get away from the TV screen, and from all electronic screens for that matter >>> just get out there, breathe the air,  and look at, well, anything – and maybe photograph it too!  I’m getting older and the news is certainly starting to get to me – “good news is no news”, right?  And as Bette Midler sang in Hello In There, “And all the news just repeats itself like some forgotten dream that we’ve both seen.”.

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I hope this has been a good and maybe useful read.

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Adrian

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

21 Responses to TALKING IMAGES 1 – ART WOLFE

  1. bananabatman says:

    I can but try to apply the wise words that you bring to us Adrian. There is much to be learned from them. I do, however, have the problem that I live in a disorganised mess, and tearing pages from magazines, for future reference, will inevitably lead to this mess becoming even bigger, so I’m going to resist this advice. Thankfully, this wonderful new internet thingy, usually allows me to quickly find that information without increasing my household fire risk any further.

    Seriously though, ‘Talking Images’ looks like being a very useful new series. I look forward to more. Dave 🙂

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Dave, thank you very much. I have some more of these posts in mind but they take some thinking about. I love “disorganised mess” – I’m maybe in an “organised mess”, tho that may simply be seeing the present through rose tinted spectacles … 🙂 ….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sonali Dalal says:

    Very true! And I agree with all the points he as well as you made!

    Like

  3. LensScaper says:

    You’re a man after my own heart, Adrian. I too tear out pages from magazines and file them away. And I also have a long file of Quotes that I collect. One file for the photographic ones and one for general. You never know when good Quote will come in handy. This type of collecting is what designers, painters and graphic artists have done for years – scrapbooks, sketchbooks, call them whatever you like. It’s something that more photographers should be doing. Well written – and I look forward to the next instalment.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, I agree, more photographers should be doing it, its certainly a very helpful way of accumulating knowledge. Thanks for your good words – I have ideas for more instalments, and I’ll aim at maybe one a month or two. Adrian

      Like

  4. krikitarts says:

    Hear, hear! Anyone could benefit from considering the inner workings of Art Wolfe.

    Like

  5. andybeel says:

    Hi Adrian an excellent read thanks. I have wildlife photographer friends who rate Art Wolfe very highly, his philosophy is very similar to mine. I look forward to reading these posts with great interest. Andy

    Like

  6. Great idea for new posts Adrian. I bought one of his books a few years ago – ‘The New Art of Photographing Nature’ which is about technique and is very good. I look forward to your next post like this 🙂

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  7. Oh, I Love this… as a newbie, such an wonderful way to supplement my learning Photography, Thank you!!

    Like

  8. You’ve been busy thinking and reading and reading and thinking. Good for you, young man. No wonder you gave me a plethora of photo tips to churn around in my gray matter. No. Not my hair! My brain!! I am no photographer, but I will read “Talking Images” just because I like reading your stuff. 😉

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, come on now, read what Art has to say – and if you’re not a photographer, which I dispute NB NB NB !!! (and I can do that being insulated as I am by the width of The Pond between us), then look at the third quote >>> and CERTAINLY look at the lyrics of Bette’s song – maybe you already know it – it certainly gets to me very much indeed!

      And grey matter – say, have you ever thought of a purple rinse … and something for your hair too … ??? … 😉 …

      Like

      • I’ve been thinking of purple stripes ☺️
        NB NB NB ??? translate please.
        “So if you’re walking down the street sometime
        and you should spot some hollow ancient eyes,
        don’t you pass them by and stare
        as if you didn’t care.
        Say, “Hello in there. Hello.”

        Like

        • Adrian Lewis says:

          I can see you with purple stripes! The world may lurch a little, and people may point you out in the street, well … more than they do now I mean … >>> but go for your dream, do it!!!

          NB is something we Brits use a lot. Its short for “nota bene”, which is latin for “note well”. I used to be big on latin in my private primary school, where it was drilled into me by the headmaster, Major Thompson, who used to go purple and shout at the backs of our necks as if we were troopers on parade. Halcyon days …

          Anyway, Duchess, anyway, the reason that I used 3 NBs was to stress my disagreement with your assertion “I am no photographer” – such assertions of incompetence will always receive short shrift from your’s truly, and from me too.

          And isn’t that a wonderful Bette Midler song? The words alone get to me, but hearing her singing it is a real experience!

          I hope this is a good Sunday for you, and that your weekend is going well. Take care, and stay wonderful. ATP xxx

          Like

  9. James Keegan says:

    Thank you for sharing

    Like

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