The second lesson I wish I learned much earlier in my photographic journey is actually a lesson within a lesson. When I first picked up a camera to start making art, I thought I was after the beautiful image. We all know the one I am talking about, wonderful clouds, colorful horizon with crystal clear blue sky with some warm foreground element to balance off the shot. I traveled the world looking for these shots which I kept seeing in all the on-line photography classes. This perfect image must be the pinnacle of photographic expression, if it wasn't then why would all the experts be teaching it?
Only years later did I realize that the wonderful postcard perfect image of a sunset, with brilliant colors and sense of depth was...crap. The reasons all the experts teach how to capture those images is because it is the easiest thing to teach. There really is very little art in those images. It is about capturing a perfect scene.
Those same experts, then take the photographer indoors to practice shooting with lights, modifiers and reflectors. Again, a place they could control, easily teach and sell a bunch of gear in the process. I do not blame them, I would do the same if I was making a living off photography courses.
What I learned is that Art can be at its strongest when it is simple. Removing the complications of life, the clutter of advertisements and the noise of messages can create a powerful image from a simple object. The lack of busy messages can carry the strongest message through an emotion.
The image of the bulls above, is actually a work by Picasso where he deconstructs a bull in order to be able to transmit a message with as little information as possible. The goal, ensure everyone who looks at the drawing knows it is a bull, but remove all unnecessary things. This deconstruction is amazing to me, and the simplification it brings is astounding.
This idea that art is not perfection, but the communication of an emotion and the power of transmitting that emotion with some very simple objects changed by view on photography. I have not shot a sunset in ages, as I focus more on the details of a persons hand, face or silhouette.
The lessons I learned right after this one is that of size. When I first began printing images, I wanted to print the largest size possible. I printed massive prints, then bought a printer that could print on a large scale only to print largely forgettable images. I thought this was the best that could be done and went about my life.
Then on a afternoon in Paris, I went to a Museum to see an exhibition of my favorite photographer Josef Sudek. I had seen his work in books and on the internet but had never seen one of his actual prints. Imagine my surprise when the image I thought was going to be large was tiny. I was dumbfounded! Here was a master photographer who was printing small images. I stood there wondering why, and then involuntarily took a step closer, then another and another. I found myself getting close to the print, closing the gap, and focusing on it. The rest of the world drifted away and there was only me and this print. A astounding little print.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.