Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What is photography about?

click photo to enlarge
 People pursue photography for many different reasons. The best list of these that I've come across, at least in terms of the motivations of amateur photographers, is in the book, Photography: A Middle-Brow Art by Pierre Bordieu and others. You can find it quoted in my blog post, Why do we take photographs?, though I'll warn you that it is cloaked in academic prose and you have to dig to get at the meaning. Today, I thought I'd tackle a subject very close to this issue and briefly summarize what photography is about for me, and, importantly, what it isn't about (for me).

I'm a photographer solely for the pictures I can make. I could end there, but I'll expand a little. How the pictures are achieved is less important to me than what is achieved. I see photography as closer to the arts than the sciences or even crafts, though it does often produce work that is more craft-like than artistic. Visual creativity and the components that underpin it such as composition, colour, light, tone, space, shape, line, contrast, feeling, message, etc, are more important to me than the technical details of sharpness, noise, sensor type, etc. The technological and technical aspects of photography are not what I am interested in. I take it as a given that we've passed the point where a correct exposure is one of the main aims of photography: the computers in our cameras are pretty good at achieving that without our intervention. I don't have a great interest in cameras except insofar as I know enough to buy what I need for my purposes, and make them do what I need them to do. Consequently I aim to use a camera that is "good enough" for the purposes to which I put it, and I have no inclination to debate the merits of one compared with another.

It's for these reasons that I (and many others) take shots such as those above, images I call "semi-abstract". These are photographs in which line, pattern, colour, contrast etc. are more important than the ostensible "subject" i.e. windows and their  reflections. Not everyone's taste I guess, but I like them!

photographs and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On