Another week collection, number 5, and some personal musings. Maybe these draft all over the place, but I felt the need to scribble down some random thoughts.
All I write on my blog is my personal view. I am curious what others write and say, but try to ignore what professional photographers say. Not that I don’t read it, but find myself not connecting to it. They have different intents for their photography. They have customers to satisfy, pay bills or worry about other paying his or her bills. They run tough businesses and see the photography landscape change rapidly in their disadvantage. And I tell you, this has happened before and will happen in the future too.
My grandfather lost his business with the arrival of consumer color film and larger plants developing these for consumer. There was less need to process and print black and white film. Consumer cameras became cheaper and people started to take more pictures. Sounds familiair related to the current situation? And that was late Seventies, early Eighties. Go figure.
I recently read an article written by a professional photographer mentioning, surprised, that many other people call themselves photographers as well. In his opinion most were merely camera operators, maybe taking a good photograph ones in a while lacking intent though. Pretty pretentious in my opinion, but he is a “professional” photographer so he must probably know that a lot better than me (and many others). Well, I’ve got this to say: “Don’t question the intent or motivations from others, but only question your own intent or motivation.” That should matter in my opinion.
The same is with people who doubt whether their own work will be noticed in the huge amount of images shared on the web. Complaining about the many, in their opinion, meaningless photographs. Again, don’t question there quality of work, but work hard for yourself. Again, question your own intent and motivation. Set bars for yourself, not for others. Make first and foremost work you can be proud of. So many things can be rewarding. If only you look for them on your own.
I haven’t spoken about gear in a very long time. Sure, it matters to some extent, but your choices shouldn’t necessarily matter to my photography. Like my choices won’t make you a better photographer. Again, find your own intent and motivation. The funny thing though, coming back to my choices, is that I always have two dedicated cameras with me on a daily basis. My Ricoh GR and a Panasonic GF1. I, however, always use my iPhone 6 now. And I don’t even know why. Last year I even made a small film with the iPhone which I might eventually post here on my blog someday. That film feels finished for 95%, but it needs some minor tweaks though in post production. I’m just amazed how much you can do with a smart phone. Years ago I talked about the small sensor aesthetics which I really liked. My iPhone now is faster and almost more intuitive in use than my previous compact cameras I used. It is a stunning camera and I’m strongly considering leaving my other cameras at home.
I’m working on a new personal film project. I made this promise with some photography friends. Within this group we try to set personal goals and challenge one another. We greatly respect and admire each other, and each other’s work. For us, what really matters is, again, the intent and personal motivation. We all try to achieve making work we can connect to in one way or another.
I made a short film last year to figure out whether my filming would be different from my photography. I was curious if a couple of seconds clip would be different from a 1/125 second moment. While it created new considerations and possibilities, I personally thought the differences were not that big. Also in my first film I focused mainly on mundane things, like I do in my photography. I feel no need to make it all more exciting.
So what is my intent? Why do I take photographs? Is it to preserve moments for myself? No, not likely. Many times I didn’t take photographs at moments that felt precious and memorable to me. I still can relive these moments vividly, knowing that I could never capture those moments in a frame. So many moments persist so much longer than that blink of an eye. You see, what matters to me is the mundane. My life is mundane, and while many find that lacking adventure and excitement, I’m fine with that. Raising my children, sharing life with my wife, and going to work makes my life worthwhile. So, through this worthwhileness I find my intent.
I could do travel photography and amplify maybe two percent of my life spent, or I could focus on what I do for the rest of my life (except from sleeping). It is up to you, like I made up my own mind. I guess, besides intent and motivation, it also boils down to honesty. Nothing is more or less important, it all is important.
Just some quicks thoughts on Apple introducing a new MacBook Pro and ditching the SD card slot. While Apple gives no strong reasoning for doing so, it also clearly shows how clueless the camera industry are in my opinion. When I use my iPhone for taking photographs I quickly transfer my photographs with Airdrop. It is fast and very reliable. With my cameras I have no similar feature or I have to buy Wi-Fi SD cards instead. More recent cameras have Wi-Fi and provide apps to transfer photographs. Apparently this still is not an optimum solution and camera manufacturers clearly lack the skills or willingness to do any better. Manufacturers need to sort these things out very quickly to give photographers similar benefits too. While photography remains incredible popular, camera sales are in serious decline.
So I said, I only use my iPhone now for my photography. I have numerous cameras that are kept unemployed in my bag. And I feel no need to pick them up. The iPhone is fine for me. I don’t have to care about the technology and technique. Not to deal with setting the right date and time. We switched to wintertime late October and I always forget to change that in-camera. I do most of my editing and processing on my phone and transfer my photographs once in a while. Instead, I’m always observing and on the look out for something interesting, something that ticks my mind, I connect with. For me, I find that the purest form of photography. I #believeinphotography, not in film, cameras, or anything else that ruins the process for me.
I mostly try to stay away from politics on my blog, but I find current times particularly worrying. We’ve seen political turmoil in the Middle East bursting in horrific violence, misery, and death. World powers and regional structures fighting their proxy wars, with previously chosen leaders turning into dictators. And the still leading world power embarrasses and jeopardises the world stability. Yes, the world changes. And sometimes these changes come so fast that it is logical that people become fearful in one way or another. Yet, for what we choose we have great responsibilities. Each and every vote counts and your call might have great influences on the world we live in. Don’t be feared about the unknowns that may lay ahead, but dream about the world you want to live in.
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma