It’s About the Image; Not the Gear
Okay, clearly you need camera gear to make a photograph. True you can use your cell phone and if your happy with the images you’re getting then that’s great. You’ve got no need to buy any more camera gear. Because lets face it; this stuff ain’t cheap!! To get a decent digital kit you’re going to have to fork over hundreds, if not thousands, of bucks! And last time I checked that’s not for everyone.
However, having acknowledged a digital camera is costly, for me it’s all about the final photo no matter how you got there.
- How does my image make me feel?
- Does my image “speak” to some inner part of me?
- Does my image remain in my memory for a long time?
- Am I personally happy with the final image?
The specific camera settings, you know, ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture, that sort of thing and the camera/lens combination are all secondary matters. The digital camera/lens, the computer and the image processing software I use are my creative tools of choice.
Let’s give you an analogy. (I’m big on analogies. They can often make complex things simpler.)
A painter uses brushes, a canvas or board and paint to create his/her work of art. I doubt anyone asks the painter what type of brush, or paint, he/she used.
The visualisation, the idea, the intention for the work comes from within the painter. These thing are unique to the individual, to the specific artist. It’s the same for a photographer.
On April 26th, 1937th, during the Spanish Civil War, the town of Guernica, Spain was razed in a bombing raid. The raid was carried out by the German air force. Hitler sent elements of the German Luftwaffe to help Franco and his fascist forces defeat the left-wing and democratically elected government. In reaction, Picasso created the painting Guernica.
The above are the facts. The first time I saw this painting, I don’t mean the original, I should be so lucky, I mean a picture of the original painting, I got sense of pain, fear and utter agony. The characters rendered in the painting are totally distorted, fractured, and broken into pieces. And the use of stark black and white paint makes the emotions even more real because the viewer is left to their own imagination what it was like to experience such terror.
This work of art is probably Picasso’s most famous painting. I doubt anyone wonders what type of paint or brushes he used. The work stands on it’s own.
I feel the same way about a photographic image - it stands, or fails, on it’s own. You, the viewer, are either moved to some emotional reaction by a photograph, or not. You feel a connection with the photograph and therefore you become part of that photographer’s audience. What you choose to do with that connection is up to you. You may look online for other work by the artist to see if that connection can become a deeper one. Or you may not, but make no mistake, a connection was made.
I don’t list the camera settings (ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture, etc.) I used when posting my images on my website.
Another example of a connection I made to two artists - one long passed and another still with us. Van Gogh’s Starry Night, which I had the immense pleasure of seeing the original at the Toronto, AGO Gallery.
When standing in front of the painting, I immediately heard Don McLean’s song Vincent play in my head. I stood silent, in the middle of a small crowd, listening to the painting. As others shuffled around me, I simply stood there, listening and taking in all the colours, tones, hues and shades that He applied to the canvas. And at the same time, I connected to a greater appreciation for the meaning of Don McLean’s song than I had before.
If you and I were in the exact same location and we both used the same camera settings to capture a scene, your image would be different from mine. My image would be no “better” than yours. The two images would just be different.
And yet, when I see photographs posted on social media platforms, the technical exposure settings for each image are always quoted. It’s as if these technicality, these pieces of the craft - ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture settings - will some how mysteriously make a difference about how I relate to the photograph. They don’t.
The photographs you’ll discover on this website were made because I wanted to, to please myself and in some cases, I was compelled by some inner voice, or force, to do so, but I post them here because I want to share them with you, my audience. And, if you should happen upon an image or two, or a monograph that speaks to an inner part of you, you’ll consider purchasing a copy. For it’s in this way, while we may never meet face to face, we will share a mutual connection of a deeper and more personal kind.