I’m going to start by saying something that may sound odd, have you actually looked at the photograph? If you’ve got as far as reading this blog there must have been something to spark your interest, so well done for persevering! This post is the result of a conversation I had a while ago with a friend who is also a photographer, we were discussing social media, photography based ones to be precise, and my angst as to how most people don’t actually look at the photo, they glance it then press the ‘like’ button and move onto the next, all done in a matter of seconds. Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to dictate how anyone should spend their spare time, if that’s what they enjoy then it’s all good in my book, in fact that same technique is how most photography competitions are initially judged – unfortunately.
I’m in no way a social media ‘king’, I have a few followers and get my fair share of ‘likes’ and the occassional comment, however I can’t help but wonder how many of those button presses were a result of having actually studied my photo before then giving it a form of praise. It’s a hard one to judge as I myself have often hit the button on a photo post not because I think it’s a jaw dropping great image but quite often (appologies if I sound condescending here, that’s not my intent) it’s good for that person based on how I rate their abilities and experience, sometimes just because they’re out there enjoying photography and they decided to share it, which I like.
I teach photography every now and then, one of the first things I mention is that every single photo you, I or anybody takes has a purpose. That purpose may simply be a record to remind you of something later, I did that exact thing the other day when I wanted to order some tyres for my car, took a quick snap on my phone then went inside and ordered them online, easier than writing the details down. It may be a memory of a family holiday or event, the purpose here is for it to be confined to your hard drive for ever more unless you’re one of those weirdos that actually prints them…lol. It may be a photograph to be used for commercial purposes or it could have been taken as a form of art, where the purpose is to present it to a viewer as an aesthetic interpretation of a subject or scene, the end intention by the photographer for it to be hung as wall decor in someones home/office or for an exhibition, it may even be destined for a book by them at some point.
The last example, Art – This, to me, is where you need to really look, study the photograph and try to see what the photographer is telling you, the way they’ve used the camera and/or processing to present the final image to you the viewer, hard to do that in a couple of seconds I’d say. We live in a world where everything is becoming ‘instant’, sometimes it’s nice to just slow down and appreciate things for a moment. I’ve visited both of the PhotoLondon exhibitions, with two separate photographer mates, there’s no other distractions which means you have nothing to do except look at the photographs on offer, they didn’t all appeal to me obviously but I have discovered photographers work that I really enjoyed and whose websites I’ve subsequently viewed, I may have passed over them if I’d just glimpsed the images on social media. Just a thought.
Okay a quick word about the photo attached to this. It’s an Autumn scene (or Fall for any American readers, very apt term I think), in fact it was ablaze with every Autumnal colour you could think of, there wasn’t any mist which I often prefer for these conditions but there was a bit of nice ‘light’. I was initially drawn by the rows of trees and the way the light was coming through the canopy in the middle in contrast to the horizontal line of fallen leaves on the forest floor. I took it not long after the conversation I mentioned above which was fresh in my mind, removing the colour means it loses that instant ‘wow’ factor leaving only the detail of the woods, presenting it as quite a dark image means you have to really look to see what’s going on. I don’t expect it to go ‘viral’ but it’s a photograph I really like personally.
‘Food for thought’ as the saying goes, if you don’t do it already next time you see a photo that catches your eye spend a while longer really looking at it.
Of course it’d be great if you checked out my Portfolio or some of my Collections and if you’re really bored try checking out the websites of the friends I’ve mentioned above Lee Acaster , David Baker and Damien Taylor each one of them displays some great photography, although they’re not nearly as good as mine obviously! :o)
Thanks for reading.