Thursday, 18 December 2014

Photographers Vision - An Insight (without the bullshit)

For years I've been consuming information on photography via written works, seminars, video tutorials and the like. Something that many of them talk about is photographers vision or "your vision". They often delve into how each photographer should develop a unique vision and stick with it. Your trade mark if you like - your style of image making. I've always thought this was bullshit, but today thanks to a comment from a non photographer friend +Chris Dangerfield I think I finally understand. I understand that those people writing about vision could not make me understand because they didn't understand. They thought they should. They thought they should write or talk about it because everyone else does. It's always in the photography course and in every handbook you'll find.

Thanks to Chris I finally understand it and I'm going to have my crack at writing it down to see if I can help you understand too. It's bloody simple. So simple most of us are blinded by the light. Let me lead into the discussion by quoting Chris where he commented on an article link I posted about Street Photography.

I enjoyed this, but one thing I keep observing regarding all you photographers, both here on G+ and those I've met in the flesh is a constant eye that catches images that I often walk right past. It's seeing something that I mostly don't. Some composition, juxtaposition or odd combination that fascinates and isn't 'lost' because you guys snagged it.

I don't mind that I don't (mostly) catch them, but I'm grateful you guys do and then share them with your POV.

I know a film director who's like this about character moments on the streets. We can walk the streets of New York (or any city) and he'll point out fascinating things, scenes and characters all around us that I might walk right past, as I'm in my own head.

Now, I'm constantly thinking of stories. Images often cause completely unrelated stories to unfurl in my mind and I can get facinated and absorbed in them, but it's a very different thing than 'seeing' the image that is actually there.

So, I'd add that to his lists of 'needed things'. However, maybe that just goes without saying.

That thing so many of you have that makes you notice the image and capture it for the rest of us. I'm very grateful you do it... in a studio or as a 'tog out on the street. Thanks.

Chris has a fascinating mind and he sees stories everywhere he goes in much the same way I see images. He sees stories in my images that I never did. So where does this leave us on photographers vision? Well, for me, it basically simply means that as my photography has progressed and as I've come to admit that I'm an artist (this is hard for a concrete science person) what I see around me has changed. I see colours; forms; textures; light. Not just light, but how the light is falling, where its coming from, how it is affecting a scene and I think about how it would appear in an image. I often see a composed image simply appear in my mind when I look at a scene. Either I'm crazy or I'm a photographer and this is my vision. Ok it could well be both.

There, see, simple. Your photographic vision is how you see the world. This reinforces my belief that it's not possible to have or develop a single vision because it occurs and changes based on what is around you, what is influencing you, who you love and who loves you. How the people around you make you think and feel. It's how your arty brain thinks and sees and from time to time smacks your science brain in the forehead with a claw hammer and asks did you see that?

As you progress from technical shooter mastering your skills and your machine(s) of choice your mind is quietly mastering the craft and vision of what you do to make an image. Note I say make not take - I'm in the Ansell Adams camp on that one. Don't know Ansell? look him up - most people see the monochrome magic images of Yosemite when they think of his work but there is oh such much more so go ahead and hunt out his work - especially his videos where he discusses how pretentious some photographers are.