TALKING IMAGES 57 – THOUGHTS FOR THOSE NEW TO PHOTOGRAPHY: 3 – LEARNING TO EXPLAIN WHY

 

(Click onto any of these images to open a larger version in a separate window)

Some years ago, I put out some posts specifically aimed at those just getting interested in photography, just starting out.  I tried to think of things that might be useful to them – and not just in terms of technique, but also in ways of thinking about photography, attitudes, questions that might arise, etc.  I most certainly do not know all there is to know about photography, but I’d like to try something similar again and – as always – I’m happy to take questions >>> with the caveat that, as already mentioned, my knowledge is not exhaustive.

But always remember, these are only my views and opinions: others may well think differently, and equally validly..

EARLIER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

POST 1: The Main Mantra: there are no rights or wrongs in photography, only individual photographers’ differing opinions.

POST 2Raw capture versus jpeg capture – it depends upon what you have planned for the photos you are taking.

LEARNING TO EXPLAIN WHY

In POST 1, I urged you to look at as many images – in all sorts of media – as possible, to add to the “visual library” in your head.  So, drowning yourself daily in pictures, where do you go from there?  Well, the second bit is not quite so easy, but it is something that puts you on the road to knowing your visual preferences, and thence to creating images that suit those preferences..

Because, let’s make this clear from the outset, I am talking here about YOU – YOUR visual preferences – NOT those preferences that anyone else, say a competition judge (oh, shudder and groan …!) says you should have.  We are all different, we all like different things, and thank heavens that’s the case >>> so this is a journey of exploration for YOU, a journey to find out what YOU like.  What you like may of course change over time, there is no guarantee that it’ll be fixed, but the point is, this is about YOU …. YOU ….. YOU …..

 

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So, how to start?  Simple.  Look at an image, its probably best to start with a photograph, and simply ask yourself whether you like it or not.  And whichever is the case, then ask yourself WHY.  The point is that here – at the start of a very long and fascinating road – you are going to start putting your preferences into WORDS..

And rest assured that this does NOT have to be long or sophisticated, not something up there alongside Matthew Collings pontificating about art or Mark Kermode reviewing a new film.  It can be ultimately simple: “Its too dark and sombre!”, or “I don’t like posed portraits”, or “The blues and yellows here go very well together”.  Because in each of these examples you have given a reason, you have translated your feelings into words that you and others can comprehend – YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY ….

And from those simple beginnings, you may start to notice other things.  For example, “I like this because the many lines in this picture all lead in towards that darling little girl”; or “do you know, having only a part of that person’s face in the frame actually intrigues me!”; or “this photo’s not in focus but I don’t think that matters at all!” – and so on..

It doesn’t matter what you say, it doesn’t have to be technical or “sophisticated” >>> but its YOU, putting YOUR thoughts into words.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?  Because it is helping you to know yourself and, in particular, to become aware of your visual tastes >>> so that when you next point a camera at anything, you will have that little bit more of an inkling as to why you like or dislike it >>> you will be more consciously on your way to developing what many see as the holy grail of photography, Your Personal Visual Style..

I’m NOT saying that being able to articulate your visual likes and dislikes will automatically make you a more creative person.  But what I AM saying is that if you are able to say something – anything – about why you like or dislike an image, you will also be able to do this when looking at your own camera’s screen or through its viewfinder, and you will be on the way to creating photographs that you, at least, like.  And that’s a step forward.

But another thing to mention here, something to be aware of.


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THE DIRE CURSE OF THE GREAT GOD INDIFFERENCE!

You show your photos to someone else and hope for a positive response.  You’d much rather have them say something positive, than utter negatives.  But there is a third possibility that is far worse than a negative – and that is INDIFFERENCE!

Its uncomfortable having someone saying negative things about your work >>> but at least its input, something to be thought about and worked upon maybe >>> unless you consider the person making the points an utter clod of course.  Because at least your attempts have made an impact, albeit a negative one.

But when someone is completely unmoved by your efforts, when someone looks at them with the complete indifference of the type that, for example, the thinking classes reserve for politicians, now THAT really hurts >>> so don’t be taken by surprise by it, always keep in mind that it just might happen.

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer - using mono, colour and combinations of the two - many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous, trying new ideas, working in multiple genres. And I've a weakness of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

9 Responses to TALKING IMAGES 57 – THOUGHTS FOR THOSE NEW TO PHOTOGRAPHY: 3 – LEARNING TO EXPLAIN WHY

  1. bluebrightly says:

    Useful advice, which can be a good reminder wherever one is on the journey. Well illustrated to make your points, too!

    Like

  2. Sonali Dalal says:

    Very wise words! A question. Don’t you feel looking at too many images influences your art too?

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      No – I very much enjoy looking at others’ pictures, and I use the “explain why” method I’m talking about in this post, but I really can’t say that this ever influences my art, no matter how many other photos I see. I just get on and “do my own thing”, LOL! >>> in my own little bubble maybe! That’s me! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

      • Sonali Dalal says:

        I used to look at many photos. Now I have restricted it and look at photos of the people I really admire and love. Mainly because I hardly go to social media. Few years before, when I traveled, I would look at photos captured by others of that particular place. Then I realised when I visit that place and I lift the camera, I would remember the shots I had seen before. Now I deliberately avoid looking at photos before I visit particular place with a hope that I will come up with different point of view.

        I enjoy looking at pictures of people who come up with something new, something different every time. It makes me curious what will be the next. And let me tell you, you are definitely one of them.

        Like

        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Sonali, thank you very much, I’m very encouraged to hear that! I do try to do different things, a range of things.

          And I think you’re 100% right about not looking at others’ photos of a place before you visit that place – its important to visit a place with no preconceptions, but simply to go there and keep your eyes open. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Oops. The third for the expression, the second for the simple juxtaposition light and dark.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you, Michael, thank you. I include photos in these posts because I think that text alone is rather dry. I don’t really think that the photos are relevant to what I’m saying, I’m just trying to present images that differ from one another – although in a future post some pictures will illustrate what I’m rambling on about. Very glad you think this post worthwhile. Adrian 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wise words my friend, and beautiful images. The first, for the framing of negative space. The second, for that amazing expression.

    Liked by 1 person

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