Wednesday, August 5, 2009
realism versus pretty
I've written twice about my view of realism and pretty photos or images, see the first and the second. And yes I'm beating a dead camera into submission and it just won't fire the shutter anymore. But I'll keep harping on it as long as I keep seeing pretty pictures in photo magazines by professionals because it sells the ideal, something rarely attainable by most photographers and certainly beyond the interest of ordinary ones like me except to complain.
Well, I was reading Outdoor Photographer at our local Borders stores. I don't buy any photo magazines at newstands anymore. I have three subscriptions, LensWork, View Camera and Photo Techniques. I usually just scan them and read them since I find almost all are full of ads and articles selling equipment. The old sales adage, you always need new or better equipment. And the pros are more than happy to show and prove it.
And yeah, they do produce some great images. And occasionally some serious photographers have an article or portfolio in them. I can't argue against that, it's what you see in photographer's resume, the different magazines and issues you can see their images. Some strive to that end, the number they can recite in the bibliography. Some are just satisfied to do that occasionally.
It shows the degree they work on their photogaphy as a profession and career. Not that I'll ever by that good. It's not my goal in life or with my photography. Not that I wouldn't mind, but I just don't produce that quality. I like to look at the magazines for ideas in the images and the places they were taken than the images themselves, and why the images kinda' bother me a little.
And that's what bothersome about the magazines than realism or pretty pictures. With the sheer number of outdoor photography magazines, it's hard not to notice almost all peddle professionals selling pretty pictures. I'm not knocking their skills or craft, nor really their results. Their photos are beautiful and excellently produced. But they're still just pretty pictures. Turn the page and you forget what it was.
But the real question that always come to mind when I see these images is simple. If I were standing there what would I see? Would I see this pretty scene or something less and even far less glamorous and beautiful. It's clear when the best photographers see a scene they can also imagine a final print.
That's something I've never really learned how to do, imagine a final image from what I'm seeing. I see and capture what I see. I produce what I saw, or thought I saw. I'm not a fan of "improved" images beyond what the film or digital images didn't do and you remember or want to present. After that I'm done, and it's why my images look ordinary.
I've tried to produce pretty images and I keep getting tired or bored with all the manipulations or the variety of results. It's why I like film so much. It's there in your slide. I worked or it didn't. And all my images from slides compare almost identically. That's my goal. And probably my downfall or failure in photography. Being ordinary and producing what I saw.
I want to share what I saw, not what I imagine. It's the photo above. I drive by this pond often enough to watch it through the year and was fascinated by the color difference in the spring. And it's what I saw standing there. It took some playing with settings in the camera to capture it, but the only work in Photoshop was resizing for the Web.
It won't make a magazine, let alone a cover anywhere. Obviously. But I'm happy with it, and that's all that matters for me, my photography. Nothing pretty and real as my mind sees and thinks.