Thursday, February 4, 2016

Trying Again

On my GW Images blog I announced yesterday that I am going to try to revive this blog.

Photovisualize began as a way for me to share things about photography that I felt was important. I could introduce the readers to photographers, share important thoughts about photography, share information on books which I have found of value and just about what every struck my mind regarding photography. The original intent was to make it a place to ‘write’ about photography more than sharing photographs like I do on GW Images. I see no need for two blogs that do basically the same thing.

Because I have more to do than I ever have time to accomplish this blog has fallen on hard times and is greatly ignored.

Once again I am going to try to split the functions of the two blogs. GW Images to post current photos and photo events and Photovisualize for philosophizing. I seem to have muddled the two over the past year or so. At least, right now, that is the plan.

As I confessed on GW Images, I originally approached Photovisualize as a way of enlightening other photographers, however, it is not entirely that altruistic. I write about photography because writing slows down the thinking process and forces me to examine my thoughts more closely. I do not understand people that do not write. I always get more out of my writing than probably anyone else, so maybe it is just for me. I don’t know. I hope along the way that others may find what I write to be of value. Although, frankly Scarlet, most people that I know and discuss such things with seems to be fully capable of dismissing my writing without as much as a second thought.

I am just like any other photographer when it comes to documenting the world around me. However, I want, okay need, something more from photography so I also attempt to use it to understand myself, my life, my beliefs and sometimes my perversions and fears. As I have previously written, anything less than that and I would have given up photography many years ago.

When I speak of ‘my photography’ I am not speaking of all the photography I do because I do an awful lot of photography that is no more than shutter clicking—it has no true value beyond capturing an image. Frankly—it’s crap. Then occasionally, I do a photograph or possibly a series of photographs that come from a much greater depth—thus they create something of value–at least to me. However, having said that I am a firm believer that all photography, let’s say ‘serious’ photography, comes from within the individual.

Often things creep into our photographs that we did not intend or at least did not recognize at what I call the time of conception—that moment when we release the shutter. Sometimes, what is there is discovered; sometimes it lies dormant for years; sometimes we never discover it. I am always looking at my photograph hoping to make those discoveries.

ADDENDUM  I am going to insert a story here: Years ago I did a lot of critiquing on PhotoNet and PhotoSig, two web sites that were set up for discussing photographs. There was a photograph posted that showed a woman sitting on a couch on the right of the image. Near the center some distance away there was a man standing with his back to the room looking out of a window and to the left a ghostly figure bending over a table. The woman was the only one of the three that was in fairly sharp focus, so obviously she was the intended center of interest. Her expression was pretty noncommittal and she was looking toward the figure bent over the table on the left. The man at the window was very out of focus and greatly diffused by the bright window light. The photographer commented on the great relationship between the woman on the sofa and the man at the window and that she was so proud of capturing that relationship in this photograph. It was a photograph of the two people very separated, not in any way relating to each other. If anything it said that there was a considerable distance between the two. There was simply nothing in the photograph that would lead the viewer to conclude that there was any sort of relationship even existed between the two—particularly a loving, congenial relationship as she was describing it. The photographer was angry, downright livid, and she let me know it, when I pointed that out. She simply let her personal feelings for these two people and what she knew, or what she thought she knew of their relationship cloud her judgment. What she was seeing, what she was so proud of capturing, was simply not in the photograph. If anything it was just the opposite. You don’t portray a great relationship by photographing two people located some distance apart with their backs to each other. And you don’t portray a great relationship by including a third person that has nothing to do with the relationship and then having the center of interest look toward that third person. Yet the photographer believed this was a great photograph of a loving relationship. Sorry, lady, you need to learn something about the visual language of photography. I probably lost any possibility of creating a cyberfriend. But maybe she learned something about the message of photographs.

For those that feel I was disrespectful in pointing it out. Fine, feel that way. No one is ever advanced by coddling--or political correctness. So, read Emerson and get a life.

Jay Maisel called it 'moment', that time when the elements in a photograph come together. Bresson called it 'the decisive moment.' All she had to do was wait for the couple to come together to relate to each other and she possibly would have had the photograph she seemed to think she had. She will do it better the next time because she has been given a small insight into the language of photography. Yeah, that is egotistical on my part--but true.

Of course, those that see photography as simply an exercise in technique are most likely unaware that their photographs—even the technical exercises—can often reveal much more than they would ever suspect. ALL photographs comment on the photographer as much as they comment on the subject matter of the photograph.

Some contain very strong statements. Some are flattering. Some are not flattering. Some are extremely revealing of our personal nature, or our foibles—probably much, much more than we would like for them to be. I also believe that as the photographer we are not always certain of what our photographs are saying. We can convince ourselves that what the photograph is saying is considerably different from what it is actually saying.

I strongly believe that this ‘revelation’ about the photographer, when it is realized and I think it often is on a very subconscious level, is the primary reason so few amateur photographers ever push their photography beyond technique or mimicry.

I enjoy my photography when it becomes very personal, even revealing, because I have come to accept myself and most, if not all, of my flaws. My first wife accused me of being monomaniacal and I feel certain she was absolutely correct.

I do not learn well on a vicarious level. The only way I understand life is through my own experiences. I see that as a flaw even though I’m not entirely sure that anyone else can understand life except through their personal experiences. I am not terribly well educated nor very intelligent, not nearly as perceptive or intelligent as I would like to be—another flaw.

I think, I read, I write, I photograph—and for the most part most everything else is of this world is of mute importance. When I was young, although I did not waste much time trying to figure it out, I was curious whether or not I was introverted to compensate for my enormous ego, or whether I was egomaniacal to compensate for my introversion.

I have always vacillated between the two as I vacillate between happiness and sadness. I am light and dark, good and evil, smart and stupid and everything in between.

I hope life will always be complex and that I will never really understand it. I hope my photography will in some small way reflect that complexity. But then again I am very inwardly turned so maybe all this introspection has no real value. Who knows? Yeah, I am probably over thinking it.

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