When it comes to my own photography, I’m having a lot of mixed emotions lately. I’m clearly not an artistic photographer by any stretch. I’m very much a snapshot photographer; which shows, doesn’t it?
A great deal of the pictures I take are out a car window, which doesn’t lend itself to composition. And I shoot everything in automatic mode on a snapshot camera, because I’ve never quite gone beyond that. I took a photography course back in college, back in 1989, but 3/4 of the class was geared toward developing your own photos in the dark room and chemicals and dark room tricks you could play to make your pictures look more interesting, all of which has fallen by the wayside. Even our relationship to filters and lenses and F-stops have changed because of digital photography and being able to see what picture you just took, and being able to shoot thousand of photos. I feel like I should re-learn manual photography, but part of me doesn’t want to, because of something I’ve noticed about the intersection of digital SLR cameras and amateur photography lately…
The trouble is, when looking at, for instance, my chosen online photo sharing site, flickr, the pictures that everyone loves and rates as “interesting” the ones that pop up to the top of the explore page, are often really boring to me.
They seem so staged. Perfectly composed, brilliantly colored, full of people with lined faces and peeling paint and bottled ethos on display. (let’s go out and jump in a field! Or, Oooh, look, desolation!) Just the right exposure, just the right filter, just the right lighting, just the right framing, just the right camera speed and focus, or out of focus when it make sense for the shot, all so perfectly canned for our delight.
I very much get the feeling that the photographer is trying to force me to look in a direction that he has chosen, on a scene he arranged, rather than capturing real life happening around him, like stock photography from a catalog for a corporate website.
Not to pick on this one girl or anything, but I happened to have a link handy to her photos because I was trolling through the “interesting” links and came across it, but here’s an example:
I find myself wondering what’s happening over on the left, just out of camera range.
I have to throw out a lot of the pictures I take, and there’s a lot I need to improve on. I do like the depth of field an SLR camera has, and I’d love to get better pictures indoors in low lighting. I’d love to play with lenses. I wish I had a true panoramic camera. But in all I never want to be staged. I much prefer my “point and shoot, ask questions later” method of taking pictures. I’d rather you get a sense of what’s actually happening around me when I take the picture, rather than wondering “Why the hell was she walking there?” or “Who the heck are those people and why are they jumping in a field?”

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