Thursday, May 26, 2005

What? Why? How?

Photography is becoming more technical in the digital age. With the vast possibilities offered by digital files and photoshop, we are able to correct photographic mishaps into decent photos and simulate a multitude analog camera effects. Hurray to the empowerment of the photographer!

Yet amidst all this imaging power, I wonder 'Why?' There are so many books, magazines and internet articles telling us 'How to' do a million and one things. None of these articles discuss 'Why' we should use such and such a technique. In my mind, what is even more important is 'What' do we as image makers have to say.

As important as technical knowledge is, it is useless without purpose. Purpose comes from the person making the image. If we need to take a simple photo for documentation purpose, a simple, clean, well exposed photo would do. If we want to create an image that communicates an idea or an essence, then we first need to understand what we are trying to say. The technique, or 'How', follows from our inner purpose. Based on the mood or idea that we are trying to communicate, 'why?' each technique or step is taken becomes self-explanatory.

So I say to image makers, 'What do you want to say in your image?'. When creating your image, 'Why do you do it in such a way?'. I think that there are people blessed with an inner vision and the ability to express their vision. For the rest of us mere mortals, the exercise of finding some inner vision, or something worthwhile to say in our images, will save a lot of wasted time, effort and money creating crap. Even with a clear inner vision, we will struggle to master the technique to bring to life our vision.

A heroic failure is worth more to me than mediocre, technically correct, vapid pictures. So many of the most moving images I love are technically flawed.

Nowadays cameras can practially take pictures for us. It is up to us, the humans, to create images, not just take snapshots for no particular reason.

1 comment:

töes said...

This reminds me of "The golden rules of photoesgraphy" i posted on my own blog not long ago:

Rule #1
"There can only be one kind of lighting - the kind in its original ambience."

Rule #2
"You don't manipulate photos. You merely turn the worst situation around in your favour."

Rule #3
"Fuss free photography begins with no flash and no tripod, and ends with the same."

Rule #4
"Digital photos are one hell of troublemakers. I am in favour of darkroomming than photoshopping."

Rule #5
"There are no lousy cameras, only bad photographers."

I totally agree with your arguments.