Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Photography Projects, and Photography as an art form

It is easy to spend time thinking about the technical aspects of photography, but what about the artistic side? How do photographers move forward, change and become better at what they do? The answer may seem simple, but I do not think that it is. I've listened to, and read interviews of a few pro photographers, namely Chase Jarvis and Joe MacNally; they seem to view photograph as a series of projects, with each one having a unique set of challenges that represent not just what they are photographing, but themselves as well. Their ideas are coming from the commercial side of photography, but that does not mean what they said is not true for us all.  So the question is, how do you represent how you feel about your subject through your photography?
To be honest, I am often asking myself how I can show how I feel about something through my photos. I think one way that we show ourselves in our photos is the subjects that we photograph, things that we consider important. Think about your favorite subjects for a moment, what are they and how they make you feel. Then think about how you can transfer how you feel into how you photograph your subject. If you go back a few days, I posted some comments on taking more than just a few photos of a given subject, and the idea of capturing how you feel about your subject. You can learn to better show how you feel about what you are photographing by taking more photos, from different angles, or distances.

You could think of photography projects as you would any other art project, but rather than painting, drawing or constructing, you make a photograph. Some of you may have heard others comment on making a photograph, rather than just taking a snap shot. What is the difference between making a photo and a snap shot? I'll give you my definition of a snap shot, and then what I see making a photograph to be.

A snap shot is when you simple point your camera at something, with no thought on composition, lighting, or anything else and just hitting the shutter release. Snap, its done. Snap shooters often just keep their images as they are, making no changes later, because for them getting a photo of a thing or person is their only objective. A snapshot can create some great photos, but often that is just by chance, vs. making a photograph. Many photograph makers start out as snap shooters, but they often become dissatisfied with the results and begin to look for ways to improve themselves and their photos.

Making a photograph on the other hand is different, and a great deal of though is required. Composition, lighting conditions, considering the impact of objects in the background and foreground are all factors in making a photograph. Someone who makes a photograph will often take their photos and process the image on a computer to make the scene look  as powerful, and enjoyable to view as possible. Using a computer to process ones images can be an art unto itself, as a photo can be heavily manipulated to look so different from the original, that it is not even recognizable, other than that the images are of the same subject matter. Some photographers object to the over editing of images, and I lean that way at times, but I find that as long as natural tones and maintained the image is fine.

Other artistic ways to take photos is to think outside the box, play around with light, and different abilities of the camera you have. Purposely take out of focus images, or images that are hard to understand, which would be a form of abstract. There really is no limit, other than physical ones, that you can do.