I’m a huge supporter of the idea that there should be an intent behind a photograph, in fact I went to far as to write a book about it. So when I see an example of a photo project that has a clear intent, and really delivers on it, I like to highlight it.
When I was writing my book I was naturally worried about a potential negative comments and feedback. So it was a relief when the first challenge came in a fair, well written, and well meaning comment from Pete Sherrard. With his permission I’ve reproduced his comments here, and I’d like to address them.
About two weeks ago my new camera, a Fuji X-E1, turned up in the post. I love it. It’s so much fun to use, its light enough to carry about with me without needing to head to the gym for a round of weights as preparation. It looks unobtrusive enough that no one stops and stares at me when I stop to line up and compose a photo. I’m heading to Rome for a weekend in mid December, and I can’t wait to see what photos I get.
So you might think that seeing first the the rumours and then the announcement of the X-E2, the upgrade of the X-E1, just days after I got my hands on my shiny new camera would have put a slight dent in my mood? Should I send it back for a refund (it’s still under the 30 days no-quibble return) and order the new model?
The goal of all this is to simply get the public to finally wake up and pay attention.
Joel Sartore (twitter) isn’t the sort of guy to do something half hearted. When he realised that there are nearly 6,000 different species of animal in the zoos of the world he decided to photograph, well, all of them. Sounds crazy, but thats the sort of dedication that brings about change in the world.
My goal was not to go where man had never before set foot, although untamed nature is usually to be found in pretty inaccessible places. I simply wanted to show nature at its best wherever I found it
With these words Sebastião Selgado introduces his latest work, Genesis. His stated intent is for it to be an “inspiring overview” of the planet Earth, as well as “a call to arms to protect it.”
I realised something surprising the other day. Something so surprising that it has taken me over two weeks to get my head round it. Something that lead me to set up a new Flickr group to try and change it. Too many photographers are lazy. They spend no time to get better, and then sit about moaning that their photos are not what they expect them to be. No thought is given to practice.
I can’t blame them though! I had such a hard time getting my head round this because I was firmly in the lazy group. As a competitive dancer, and entrepreneur I’m used to living with the daily idea that getting better at anything involves practice. Yet the concept of practicing my photography never even occurred to me.
Then I listened to this podcast, in which Roberto Valenzuela talks about practicing. Setting up fruit at home, picking up his camera, and spending just 20 minutes a week playing with one aspect of photography. It really is such an amazingly simple idea. I’m ashamed to admit that it has never, ever, been part of how I approach photography. It took me just a few minutes to come up with a list of ideas, each one worthy of spending time on:
- Focus and Recompose: How fast can you focus, and then recompose the photo? Can you do it fast enough that the scene hasn’t changed?
- Timing: Can you focus the camera on something moving fast (a car will do) and take a photo at the exact moment it is where you want it, or doing what you want
- Composing for your subject: Can you pick a subject, and choose where to stand to make it clear what your subject is?
- Simplifying: Can you set up a photo so that there are no distracting elements?
- Flash: Can you take a photo where the flash effects the lighting in a way you choose?