photography, photograph, sea, black and white, endless, blending, wouter brandsma, ricoh gr

Endless

2014, Photography

photography, photograph, sea, black and white, endless, blending, wouter brandsma, ricoh gr

It took me a while, but today feels like it is time for a short Sunday rant. My motive for writing this short rant is a long twitter conversation my pal Jorge Ledesma and I had. It was ignited by a tweet were he marveled a video by Ming Thein. The conversation went on for hours and I guess we still disagree. In essence it comes down to the importance of technique and understanding versus reasoning and feeling.

I’ve wrote about this before, but in my opinion there is just way too much emphasizes on the “with what” and “how to” in photography. Just check the popular Digital Photography School to proof my point. Tips and tutorials, cameras and equipment, post production. Yet, how to discover beauty or at least interestingness? How to convey your intentions to the viewers? Never a why or what reason?

You see, understanding how and why a photograph works doesn’t come from maximizing the potential of your camera sensor. Nor does inspiration come from Photoshop. Even to a beginner I suggest to just get out and make photographs. Learn techniques on the fly, but don’t spent too much time searching the internet, fora, or magazines. Don’t worry about others making rubbish with their crappy Instagram filters or Lightroom presets, but worry and enjoy your own endeavors and discoveries in photography. Find what works for you and move on to the next level. Photography is full of endless possibilities.

Most of us are amateur photographers, me included. There is a reason why it means “lover of” in French or “Lover” in Latin. Lets keep it that way. Rant over!

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

31 thoughts on “Endless

  1. Perfect. All this other stuff has almost become what photography is about, instead of being in the background where it belongs. We almost need a daily reminder…

    1. I personally believe that there are some things in photography you don’t loudly talk about. Sure I do my thing in Lightroom, Photoshop and lurk around on fora. I get inspired by others, and not only for pure photographic reasons. Sometimes I am intrigued by someone’s technique and try to understand it. Then I try to figure out if it is something I could use too for my own photography and bend it. I am however more interested in why someone does do something. That can not be rationalized though. Technique is far more objective and rational. It is something that brings you understandably from A to B.

      Photography however is so much more than only technique. Without an interesting subject, composition and exposure a photograph will always be worthless.

  2. Amen to that! 🙂 A professional photographer who doesn’t live photography with passion is destined to be miserable.

  3. Agreed too, sensible to learn your own style and how to best use it to get the results you want.

  4. First of all I am an amateur photographer. Secondly I love taking pictures. Thirdly I try to document what my life is filled with, what surrounds me & whom I met on these endless roads to the great unknown. And after all I decided to use that damn thing called camera & not to talk about it. This sounds trivial but already sent me down some long & winding roads & oceans full of enthusiasm & doubts. But it feels like when I met this creative amateur devil inside me down at the crossroads I decided to keep it exactly this way: Get inspired … see … feel … frame! Thanks Wouter!

    All the best & safe travels, Fritsch,

  5. So true, and that bumpy journey of making mistakes and taking crappy photos at the beginning is all apart of being a photographer…growing, learning and in the end loving what you do ~ and only through such a journey can you begin to really create art. Cheers!

    1. It all starts with actually taking pictures. Don’t we all have an aunt or uncle who are not photographers that come home with some gorgeous and spontaneous pictures you wished you had taken? That is the magic we sometimes got lost.

  6. Ditto to that, Wouter. I agree with you.

    Personally I get bored by the whole editing/filters/effects thing. I am fed up with ‘spectacular’ over saturated sunsets and landscapes. Apart from Spring when the foliage is usually bright green, in Australia, most plants and trees have a blue/green hue. Sure we do have some spectacular sunset colours in Autumn, but why oversaturate the natural.

    Having said that, since I’ve opted for a picture style I set up with the colour increased one notch on the slider scale, I get far more views and interest in my (old) blog. Now I’m doing more Black and White, I feel as though I’m capturing the subject far better.

    1. My processing developed over the years and I don’t tend to think about it. These things just come naturally and I never decide to process according to popularity. Then you keep going from style to style, from filters to presets.

  7. Agree with you general point, but I’m not entirely sure why you’re singling out Ming Thein here. Should he not charge money for his videos, therefore his work? He seems to go to great extents to provide value for money, and he seems a genuine person. I can think of far more suitable targets for your ire. As for style (following comments you made in the twitter thread), my impression is that Ming’s photographic style derives from three things – his foundation as a product photographer, which demands precision and control, an intellectual approach to life, and the harsh light and drastic cultural contrasts of the area he lives in. These combine to produce a strong, emotional style, in my opinion. If he lived in the Netherlands, perhaps he’d make a virtue of soft light and understated atmospheres, just as you do. And if you lived in Malaysia, doubtless your photographic reaction would be different too. I’m probably reading too much into your mention of Ming in the post, where afterwards you go on to make more general points, but even vaguely associating him with the instagram / presets cult is difficult to justify.

    1. I am at first not opposed to charging money for his videos or his work (I merely find $50 a lot of money, so I can only hope it is good value for money). He puts great effort in adding his knowledge and experience. And I respect him for that. When it comes to his style I certainly agree with your first two points. In my opinion he strives for perfection, which founded with his background and intellect makes perfect sense. I do believe that underneath the outer Ming Thein layer there is an emotional guy, but I personally get the impression that he keeps that far away for us.

      I personally disagree that his style is strong and emotional. Although I do think that his style comes down to the previous chapter accentuated points about perfection and intellect. When it comes to vague association with instagram and presets and the mentioned twitter conversation, you might have read that it was a counter reaction from from my friend Jorge when I asked why he was into his changes.

      Admitted, the original blog post was one in general, but Jorge asked me to mention our twitter conversation that motivated me to write this short rant. Thank you though for pointing me on this and I hope you accept my response.

    2. And David, one more thing. I absolutely don’t try to attack Ming nor my pal Jorge. I respect both a lot. I am very open-minded when it comes to photography, but for beginners (especially) and many photographers in general I strongly believe that the essence of photography is made when you see something interesting, frame appropriately and expose accordingly. Put in your personality into equation and you get something that goes greatly beyond cameras, lenses, processing techniques, and all. There are so many things that sum up why some photographs work and others don’t. Understanding that and learning that can be great joy and fulfillment.

  8. There are lots of ways into anything, one isn’t better than another, just different. If it takes getting into the technical stuff to get someone engaged, then that works for them. If someone else could care less about the technical stuff and just enjoys finding and making images, then that works for them.

    We get into trouble when we try to generalize a single process/method for all. It doesn’t work in any kind of education as everyone learns, thinks, and grows differently.

    The most important thing is to get started and keep going, and stay humble and don’t take yourself or anyone else too seriously.

    1. You are the gentleman Richard. It is most important to not forget that there is not a single way. That is also the main reason to find out if something works for you, bend it to your personal needs and continue.

  9. Thanks for opening up the conversation Wouter.
    Basically what I espouse is that a photographer like Ming Thein which Wouter calls a Technocrat is simply an over simplified way of looking at Ming. In my opinion, yes, Ming Thein, dominates his craft on a technical aspect but more importantly shows a great depth as to his visual imagery and our main topic of discussion (between Wouter and I) the processing of his images.
    If you go to Ming’s site you’ll see his processing is always very consistent and one is able to say, oh, that’s an image from Ming over and over again and that’s my point. A photographer needs to have a consistent body of work in order to really shine. You’ll hear the same thing from great like Joel Grimes, Zack Arias, Chase Jarvis, and many others. One can see a Jarvis, Arias, or Grimes image and say, yes, that’s so and so. And folks, this is independent if you happen to like the images. Our personal emotions have nothing to do with it, what has everything to do with it, is consistency, and that my friends Ming Thein has and then some.
    I’ve purchased about 4 of his videos already and I can wholeheartedly recommend them without reservations. Ming’s videos have really taken teaching to a new level. Personally, I’ve been inspired to have a more consistent body of work and honing in the newly acquired skills and continue to polish those and seek that level of consistency which as I aspire to achieve.

    1. Thanks Jorge for your response. Jorge emphasizes consistency in someone’s work to become recognizable. Now consistency is a huge word and brings a whole lot to the table. Photography for one, is about the art of seeing. How you see things is determined by how you respond to a subject. Your point of view, composition, exposure, better represented as the image language. Post processing is nowadays part of that too, but I like to emphasize strongly that it is only a part of it.

      I applaud the endeavor to learn, to be inspired. In our twitter conversation I wrote about a magic, or you will mystical part. One that doesn’t need explanation to the outside world. In essence, try to avoid copying. Try to understand why work by others work or don’t work. See what you can use for your own photography and bend it. Your own personality does strongly affect how your photographs will appear. Especially learning that is a challenge, but can give greater joy than understanding how perfected post processing techniques will improve the outcome of your work.

    2. Additionally I want to say I don’t really believe the word consistency is the proper word. Maybe uniformity or recognizable is the better word. Your work can remain uniform and recognizable even if your post processing and style gradually change over the course of years. So did your greats like Zack and Chase. Somewhere they were inspired too, but made it their own. I thought it was Zack who once wrote that there is nothing wrong with copying, but to never show that work. Keep trying it and understanding it until you can bend or polish it for your own photography.

    3. That’s an important topic and I’d like to put it a little sharper:

      To me consistency with its present connotation is dangerously close to stagnation, repitition or sameness and often misused to conceal and disguise this very fact!
      I see it as the absolute opposite of diversity, curiosity, boredom and advancement. Diversity is of utmost importance to me and so much harder to accomplish than to hold the camera porperly or to get the exposure halfway decent. A more suitable meaning of consistency as I understand
      it could be: “No matter the circumstances get always some good pictures” or “Be consistenly good at recognizing the dicisive moment beforehand (pre-processing)” … something like that.

      But with it’s current connotation I would dislike it very much if some says to me my pictures have “Consistency”. Would be a warning sign to change something.

      best regards
      Stefan

  10. I agree. Perhaps it is all about the “fear of falling in love” with the present moment that keeps one clinging on technical stuff. The more I feel ready to let go, the less I need my equipment for building a wall between the moment and myself. It’s like making music: you can do rehearsals till you feel safe, but on stage you have to forget it all. There is only you and the music, nothing but a love affair. Your photos look like making love with the moment. Thank you for this post.

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