It is only when you start thinking about WHY you are taking a photograph that you begin to question what kind of photographer you are.
Don’t all photographers go through an initial period when they just take what they think will be received as good photos, only to discover that it has all been done before and done better? I know I have. Praise for some of my pictures has come my way (and I am grateful for it and been encouraged by it) but I know that many of my shots are clichéd, bland and generally do the job.
Once that reality had been grasped, I am now thinking more about why I’m taking the shot. Many attractive and pleasing to the eye scenes have come my way, but I find myself thinking, “I’ve taken something like this before – why do it again? What is the point of the photograph? What am I taking to the shot?” So I am actually taking less pictures which I’m not sure is a good thing or a bad thing. Time to do some reading and thinking.
Having read ‘The Photograph as Contemporary Art’ by Charlotte Cotton, seven approaches to photography become clear:
1. The photographer devises strategies, performances and happenings especially for the camera. The picture has been preconceived.
2. The photographer tells a story in a single picture. Props, gestures, settings, etc. have been used. Again a preconceived shot.
3. Photographic aesthetic is the criteria. There is a distinct lack of visual drama or hyperbole; the subject is paramount.
4. The photographer presents the ordinary and the bland. The subject matter at its most oblique.
5. The photographer’s personal and emotional stories; the diary of human intimacy. The pictures can often look casual, amateur and have a ‘family snap’ feel.
6. The documentary and ‘aftermath’ photography recording the political and human upheaval and isolation.
7. The photographer mimics other visual genres and revives historical photographic techniques.
This recent shot of mine is one a small few that I had preconceived in my mind:
My initial thoughts are that, at the moment, I seem to be a combination of numbers 3, 4 and 6 with hints of 5. What is interesting though, is that I tend to enjoy looking at photographers in the 1,2 and 6!