Monday, 19 January 2015

Dichotomy dilemma

There's a part of me that thinks the only photography that makes any sense is documentary in nature. There's another part which likes playing around with ideas and what the medium can do. At times each part thinks the other is pointless!

One the one hand I feel like I should concentrate on documentary projects like the one I'm sort of doing about my friend's tackle shop, and the pictures I've taken at the poultry shows and at the beach. The kind of photographs that record everyday life and which I can imagine other people wanting to look at and maybe raise a smile or two.

On the other hand I find I like the more esoteric pictures I make. The ones that even I don't always know why I fired th eshutter and which often leave other people shaking their heads. Stuff that isn't always pin-sharp.

Stuff that really doesn't make much sense at all.

Yet somehow, in my imagination, it's all documentary. It's all about documenting the way I look at the world around me.

One thing I'm slowly managing to shake off, which is a good thing, is the urge to make 'good photographs'. Breaking out of the formal structures that sprang from the likes of Cartier-Bresson's work, the capturing of great light and colour seen in the 'Nat Geo school' is difficult. It's all too easy to ape Winnogrand, Eggleston or Parr without understanding what they are doing. The wonky camera angles, mundane subjects, on camera flash. I know because I've done that - still do at times. Finding a way to channel influences while putting your individual stamp on things in an intuitive way is really difficult. I find looking back through my pictures helps. Every now and then I see something that I feel is a bit different. Then the temptation is to repeat it, which is almost as bad as copying someone else. It's not easy, yet some people decry it when you talk about making pictures as making work!

Why amateur photographers think that making good photographs has to be fun and relaxing is beyond me. Maybe that's my background, or maybe it's just that I find it more satisfying to achieve something that isn't easy than something which hands itself to you on a plate? I'd no sooner catch fish after fish from an overstocked puddle than I'd only take photographs when the light was 'right'.

If there's no challenge there's no point to any of it.

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