TALKING IMAGES 43 – SOME CORE PHOTOGRAPHIC BELIEFS

 

 

Selfie, probably nude (but try not to think about that, especially if you’re just about to eat), in a hotel room, 28 Apr 2014
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Here are some things that I regard as core to the ways in which I perform and think about photography.  From the outset let’s be very clear: these are my mantras, beliefs, philosophies, ways of working, call them what you will – this is ME, but – and more on this below – it may not be YOU … (clicking onto the images will (mostly!) open larger versions in separate windows)

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT

To me, the first thing to realise is that we are all different, that we are all individuals, each with his/her likes/dislikes about anything that you care to name – clothes, sausages, cars, furniture, colours, TV programmes, sports, books, etc etc.  I think I realised this before, but seven years of running this blog and talking with all sorts of people have really hammered this home to me.

And, this being the case, it should come as no surprise that we have widely varying visual tastes – so, I hate an image but you love it: nobody is right or wrong here, we are simply different, we are individuals – and that makes for a very interesting (if often turbulent) world.

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Wet flatlands on the Somerset Levels

SUBJECTIVITY

In my view, photography is an art, albeit one that powerfully combines science and technology with the disciplines more usually associated with the arts.  Like all other arts, it is purely subjective and individual.  Hence all photographic “rules” go out the window unless they fit in with – or more correctly, add to –  what I’m doing.  And, in my view, the same applies to all photographic competitions and qualifications (eg RPS), they go out the window too, since judges may well have subjective views that differ from your’s, mine, Great Aunt Maud’s, etc.  So, I don’t enter competitions, I just do my own thing – absolutely revelling in the vast creative opportunities and potential that (for me, digital) photography brings.

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Seascape, Cornwall

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FINAL IMAGE

To me, all that matters in photography is the final image, completely irrespective of how it was captured (camera, pinhole, phone, anything).  And completely irrespective of how much or little it has been subsequently processed.  The resulting image is in the here and now, it is what we are looking at, it is all that matters.

Others hold different views.  For example, never cropping, only using film or digital, only using black and white, never doing any post-capture processing etc etc.  All of these ways forward, and all others, are valid.  What is certainly not valid is the opinion that, unless we use certain photographic equipment or techniques,  we am not practising photography “properly” and that, in some way, our images are invalid, inferior or unworthy of consideration for that reason.

Another real no-no here, in my view, is to try to pass off something that has been highly processed post-capture as something that is straight out of the camera at point of capture.  That is plain dishonesty.

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Going to work, on the early morning bus

CONTENT AND EMOTION COME FIRST

Finally, for me, technicalities, and especially technical perfection, always come some way second to the content of an image – the subject matter, emotions, atmosphere, narrative, and so on.  And that rather than looking for perfect overall sharpness, I definitely think that blurred detail can be of value in many images.

Which leads on to the point that its always worth trying to take a photo, no matter how poor the light and other conditions (although I do draw the line at getting my cameras soaked in the rain).  In particular here, I always use high ISOs where light conditions require it.  The basic tenet, for me, is that its always better to have an imperfect image, rather than no image at all.

So, for better or for worse, this is me. What do you think?  Do you agree???  Views?????????

Adrian

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On a farm in the far west of Kenya

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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.

39 Responses to TALKING IMAGES 43 – SOME CORE PHOTOGRAPHIC BELIEFS

  1. Glen Fisher says:

    great images, like your approach 🙂

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Glen, thank you very much, that’s very good to hear! I see from your blog that you’re in your 50s and starting out as a consultant – I wish you luck and success! I’m 68, firmly retired, and enjoying it very much; retirement has I think given me my life back. Thanks again. Adrian 🙂

      Like

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Adrian. ‘Content and emotion come first’, certainly my cup of tea. For me, I make a difference between ‘shots with content’, and shots that are registrations (this is the Eiffel tower in Paris; or this is my son playing bass guitar). These registrations are not Art for me; and the Eiffel tower should be razor sharp; and parts of my son should be unsharp, to show how fast he is playing.. 🙂 Somewhere in between these two ‘categories’, are shots where the content is ‘sheer beauty’, with nothing more to say than: this is beautiful, according to Harrie. These shots can be minimals, reflections, abstracts, flowers, trees, or whatever, but the focus is on the beauty and not on what it is. (by the way: beauty can also be very imperfect beauty…). This is where it starts to be Art for me. Photography can be Art when it expresses parts of who you are; what you feel; what you think; what you love. That’s why I fully agree with you, when you say that the individual, unique photographer should have total freedom; no rules, no restrictions, no styles; just an open mind and open eyes. Personally I like to shoot in one shot. No double exposures; no effects; no photoshopping; just some enhancements in Lightroom to bring out the content as clear as possible; and a good title as well. But that’s me.. as you know 🙂

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Harrie, this is one of the best and most informative posts this blog has ever received!!! Thank you for sharing your views so completely – and I agree with you throughout. I’m very interested to hear about the distinction you draw between shots that are registrations or Art – I think most of my photos go more towards Art – am I right??????? And yes, very much so, the Art expresses something about who we are, about ourselves. And I agree with the following fully: “Personally I like to shoot in one shot. No double exposures; no effects; no photoshopping; just some enhancements in Lightroom to bring out the content as clear as possible; and a good title as well.” >>> add in our tastes in beer, and …. are we clones?????????? 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, you’re right; your photo’s are nearly always more than just registrations. That’s why I follow your steps. I have started to buy beer on the internet at http://www.beerwulf.com. A lot to choose from and when you have selected a full pack with 16 good beers, they send it the next day for free.. 🙂 Bur clones.. certainly not, because then either you would have a lot of hair on your head; or I would be shiny bald… 😀 😀

        Like

        • Adrian Lewis says:

          This thing about our not being clones – is that the bald truth??? Or, then again, “I have far more hair than is immediately apparent …”.

          I’m very interested to hear what you have to say about my photos being nearly all more than registrations – I mean, I don’t really know what I do, other than see things that I like and blast away at them, so its very interesting to have someone else’s view. Thank you, my friend.

          How do you find beerwulf? In terms of reliability, and pricewise?? Is it in Holland? A 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • 🙂 🙂 My assumption about the amount of hair you’re carrying around, was totally based on the shot on top of this post.. Thank god we’re not clones.. ;-), but we certainly are on several matching wavelengths.

            You say: “I don’t really know what I do, other than see things that I like and blast away at them”. That’s what I do as well, most of the time; and I think it’s the best way to do it; to go out with an empty head means that you’re open for everything. Then the ‘things’ that are interesting or meaningful for you get a chance to speak to you. I went out a couple of times with a real goal and the results were very poor, most of the time, because I was not open but blocked by ‘what I wanted’…

            To get a better view on what the hell I was doing, I once went through a lot of old shots and categorized them into a portfolio. It’s in a pull down on top of my blog; and on my first blog at: harrienijland.wordpress.com/portfolio with different shots. Your shots fit in quite a few items… May be it can help you a bit to get an idea of what you’re doing. But it’s not important at all and I never have these categories on my mind when I go out with the camera.

            The Beerwulf is in Holland but they deliver also in the UK. I don’t know if they will send you a full pack without delivery costs, as they do in Holland… I have only ordered two packs and a third one will be delivered today.. I think they are reliable; the next day has been the next day, so far. I even got an Email from them saying: your pack is almost there 🙂 The prices are the same as in the shops and supermarkets overhere. A normal Duvel for €1,69 and a Citra for €1,99..

            Cheers for the weekend, Amigo!

            Like

            • Adrian Lewis says:

              Yes, matching wavelengths, definitely – which is very good! And I’m all for the receptive, empty-headed approach too – staying receptive to everything – I just go out and see what turns up. I’ll look at the dropdown but, like you, I don’t have categories in mind, I just photograph what appears. Thanks for the Beerwulf details – and for your very detailed thoughts which are most interesting and thought-provoking. Cheers to you too, Harrie >>> have a very good weekend! Adrian 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Mathias LK says:

    I totally agree. And the pictures speak for you; your way is a good way to go.

    Like

  4. Well this post has definitely inspired a lot of conversation. Not being a photographer I have nothing to contribute as far as technique, equipment, etc. but I will agree that we are all different and thank goodness for that. Otherwise what a boring world this would be. I don’t have to be a photographer to know what I like and I like your photos. The Levels floor me, the people tickle me, and the narratives thrill me. I’ll never figure out my Nikon camera, but you’re right. Better to take an imperfect picture than no picture at all. So I’ll just keep clicking on my iPhone and enjoy the ride.
    XXXATPXXX

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      My friend, thank you. Yes, we are all different, so we must all go ahead and do our own thing >>> use that iPhone, the end (the image) always justifies the means (whatever is used to make the image)!!! Haha! you can’t get to grips with your Nikon, and I’m sure I’d never get to grips with an iPhone!!! 😀

      Oh and yes, I see another storm is approaching Florida today. Hope you’ll both be ok. ATP xxxXXX!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I do Jpg, I edit, I try to remain honest to the topic, I am very partial to strong contrast in my photos at the moment. Enchanted realism?

    Like

  6. bluebrightly says:

    It’s prep day for a trip to LA tomorrow, so I will have to save this for later….when I can really enjoy it. Thank you Adrian!

    Like

  7. It’s a tribute to your writing and your photographs that you have stimulated such an invigorating discussion here. Bravo, Adrian. (P.S. I agree with you.)

    Like

  8. Sue Vincent says:

    I have to agree with you on all points, Adrian.

    Like

  9. Marie says:

    Thanks for your wonderful post. It took me a while to realize we are all different and that imitation in photography is not the way to develop one’s visual voice. I have no interest in shooting slow moving water or piers/ docks with emphatic leading lines.

    I recently read an article about a new trend (mostly on Instagram I think) of processing photos with a blue and orange filters or presets. And sure enough, I’ve begun to notice this in photo articles and blog posts. The article writer was arguing that the use of blue and orange filters did not make one a professional photographer. It was an interesting take on fads in photo processing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Marie, thank you for your thoughts – and the more so in view of their content! I absolutely agree – imitation is no way forward. Having said that, I think that we as photographers should expose ourselves to as many images as we can get our hands (eyes!) on – and images of all types, incl paintings, sketches, advertising, you name it – because every image that we see enriches the “visual library” in our heads and so moves us forwards.

      BUT, in making images, be YOURSELF, forget the momentary, ephemeral whims/fads of the crowd and social media.

      Haha! and also of course, there is this ridiculous yearning to be thought of as a professional photographer – who would want to be a professional, always creating images to others’ specifications??? Much better to be amateur and completely unfettered!

      Thank you again! Adrian 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Enjoyed this post and your take on things. I share many. Excellent shots as usual!

    Like

  11. Well said. I try to shoot a little of everything to keep myself fresh (though I admit I cannot stop chasing things that bite). I find many of the final images that really excite me tend to fall flat in the outside world. I also discovered it doesn’t matter all that much.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you, Ted – and that’s right, it doesn’t matter all that much >>> we just do our thing – and have these blogs as a wonderful (and very inexpensive) vehicle with which to instantly circulate the results!

      Being true to our own selves and visions is I think very important. Taking photos to please others is not I think the way forward; I remember a piece written by a camera club member who said that he tries to take photos that will please club competition judges, and I thought that very sad and unimaginative. Adrian 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  12. paula graham says:

    Captivating stuff.

    Like

  13. Bear R Humphreys says:

    Hi Adrian, we share some thoughts on this I think.
    I try to create a photograph, which I hope is seen as artistic. I rarely just take a straight picture, the equivalent to a postcard or a record of a scene as the smartphone brandishing, selfie obsessed and life record-keepers might be aiming for.
    All of my shots are post processed, I shoot RAW so my vision and many other versions of it are in the file for me to bring out as I see fit to match it. Some of my more recent intentional motion work is more like a painting and I perversely enjoy how ‘not like a photograph but is a photograph’ it is.
    I do mainly landscape, nature and rarely people, mainly because that is how it is where I live. I imagine if I lived where you do, I would also have a lot of people photography too, and they would offer motion and expression and tell the stories of the place.
    I personally am anti extreme-HDR 15 stop dynamic range focus stacked soft flowy waterfall images but the magazines and websites seem to love it still.
    Oh well, like you say, each way can only be ‘my’ way and each to their own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Well, Bear, this is a bit of a shock, not because I’d thought your views might differ from mine, but because your views almost totally mirror mine! I do take some record shots but like you, far more often look for artistic/striking shots; and, yes, everything is post-processed to some extent, and everything but everything is in RAW, for quality + flexibility. And again yes – as soon as a photo looks more painting-like, I know I’m getting somewhere.

      I do people, tho not as many as I’d like, but also a wide range of other subjects.

      And anti “extreme-HDR 15 stop dynamic range focus stacked soft flowy waterfall images” >>> oh yes, yes and yes again!!! Thank you for your detailed response, its always good to hear others’ views and working methods. Adrian 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bear R Humphreys says:

        Ah, well… thing is, I spent a lot of my life selling gear to people; if you ever visited Exeter and went to a camera shop, I might have sold you something…
        Anyway, they liked to take photographs just like they saw around them and worried which camera and lens could do it like that. Answer of course, all of them, it’s the photographer, etc, etc… Deaf ears, just sell me the right boxes… This was the bread and butter.

        My favourite customers though were proper artists. I notice you like the work of James Ravilious, I knew him as a regular customer ( I was pleased to see a camera bag I gave him in the background of a BBC4 documentary!) He used Leica and Olympus OM stuff but he had little time for anything more technical than ‘does that fit my cameras or not’. He was a lovely man.

        I think my exposure (ha) to the mass image taking public probably soured my overall feelings for, dare I say ‘mainstream’ photography but I always held on to knowing people like James were still doing their thing, their way and letting the rest of life’s fashions and fads flow around them.

        Like

        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Well, that’s interesting, Bear. Yes, as you say, deaf ears. The thing is, I suppose, that although it is an art, photography has a lot of intertwined science and technology, and so some (mainly male) photographers are really interested in their gear more than the art – big boys’ toys – just like cars, racing bikes, anything high tech, etc.

          Oh yes, I’m a huge fan of James Ravilious’s photography, and his father Eric’s art too. I have most of James’ books, which are a huge inspiration; and a dvd on him; and I’ve been in touch with his widow, Robin, who still lives down in Devon. I can still remember how impressed, and indeed taken aback, I was on first seeing his photographs. You are so lucky to have met him. I used an OM-1 and OM-2 way back, when I was in Kenya, and they were wonderful – they’re mouldy now but still treasured!

          I understand your feelings about “mainstream” photography – for me, photography is mainly about following my heart and my gut feelings; I’m very lucky in having inherited some idea of visual awareness from an artistic grandmother: two of us, myself and my now dead cousin, inherited this – despite the fact we spent our working lives in engineering, science and analysis. I’ve been seeing visually stimulating things all my life, though not until recently that consciously; he ended up an artist. I feel extremely lucky to be a photographer just when digital photography has opened up such amazing creative possibilities. Adrian

          Liked by 1 person

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