When photographing for a paying client I strive to give them what they want, not what I want, but for everything else I photograph, I photograph it the way I want to and not the way I’m ‘expected’ to.
Nobody can take your photo for you; they can’t put their lens exactly where you put your lens; they can’t ‘see’ what you ‘see’; they can’t ‘feel’ what you ‘feel’ and they also can’t have ever had the exact experiences in life that make you who your are. These are some of the reasons I photograph the way I do but there are also other reasons.
For example, HDR. I decided I didn’t like it because 90% of the stuff out there is nauseous and badly done, but then I thought ‘so what, just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try it’…think brussel sprouts, now my favourite veg 🙂
So I gave it a go and guess what? 90% of mine where pretty much rubbish but I got a few I sort of liked a bit and kept…but then I moved on. I run photography courses in the Derbyshire Peak District, over 130 to date, and the thing I tell everyone is that just like no-one can live your life for you, no one can tell you how to feel about the thing you’re about to photograph. Yes, there’s composition, framing the shot, geometry, to tripod or not (the most boring photography object to me by far) filters (also boring), contrast, shadow, light, exposure, rule of thirds ‘rule’ (I understand it and explain it to them but frankly if I want something in the middle it gets put in the middle, if I don’t want the horizon one third up, or down, it doesn’t get put there…you get the idea) but the most important thing to me is the person with the camera and what matters to them, not the critics nor the internet experts with their mouse and a keyboard and their unlimited supply of boring test charts and worthless opinions (I’m on a bit of a rant now!) I’m mean, for goodness sake, who really wants a technically superb photograph of a boring subject…well not me for a start!
Years ago I studied Ansel Adams in some depth and even wrote an essay about him, and one of the things he said when interviewed before is death was…
“I think of Stieglitz’s definition of photography -a paraphrase of what I heard him say many times. In the earlier days, when people were very scornful of what he called “creative photography” or “photography as art,” they would ask: “Mr. Stieglitz, how do you go about making the creative photograph?” He would answer, “When I have a desire to photograph, I go out in the world with my camera. I come across something that excites me emotionally and aesthetically. I’m creatively excited. I see the picture in my mind’s eye and I make the exposure and I give you the print as the equivalent of what I saw and felt.” The word “equivalent” is very important. It’s two things-what is seen and what is felt about it”…..