Sunday, October 16, 2005

Make images, Don't just take photographs

I am frightened by the amount of magazines and internet sites that share techniques and tips for taking great photographs. I guess that if you just want to take a decent photograph, something like you have seen before, the tips and techniques are useful. However, how many magazines or articles tell you about the way a photographer feels for his subject, the process of creating an image internally, or how an inspiration distils into the moment the shutter is released?

I guess that there is a good reason why the internal process of great image makers are not written down, because it is an intensely personal process. It is almost impossible to describe and not replicable by anyone else. Each photographer must not only know the craft of photography, but find a reason to shoot an image at a certain, at a certain angle with a certain type of lighting. Yes there are basic guidelines like the rule of thirds or how to use a short depth of field. However, when do you use the rule of thirds or put your subject into the middle of the frame? There is no intellectual logic here. It takes a personal asthetic judgement here. It makes an emotional sense that only the image maker has.

Craft and technique is important. You can take 'good photos' with good technique. To make an image, you need to have an element of personal commentary. There is not right or wrong here. The influences of how an image forms internally is informed by the whole life of the image maker. A photograph happens when the subject is in focus and the exposure is correct. An image forms when the placement of the subject and the darkness or lightness of the images creates a resonance between the photographer, the subject and the resulting photograph. This moment of resonance, or art making, cannot be taught by one person to another. One person can only inspire another to find his/her own truth, art, images.

What do I say to someone looking to make images? I say take loads of photographs to begin with. Yes, look at the technical aspect of your photographs, but then look at how those photos feel to you. Is the composition exciting, are the colours evocative, can you see the 'story' you are trying to tell in the photographs? When you understand how the elements in an image work, then you need to understand yourself. Why do you want to make an image? What do you want to say? When you can make the photographic images come together to convey your inner visions/emotions/stories, then you are making images.

1 comment:

Death Wool said...

This sounds a bit off.. but you started your blog on my birthday=)

Keep in touch.

Qian