Puzzled, but still learning

Why this image or the other?  Walking through the woods I stopped to look at hoarfrost on the edges of leaves on the ground.  Liked how the light was emphasizing the frozen edges.  Back in Lightroom I picked these two out of a dozen or so others.  Why these?  Do they appeal to some primal hard-wiring for shape, form, color, etc.?

I keep thinking about the description of the working process of the great photographers of the past.  The descriptions repeatedly return to the idea of trying to create images that capture some motivation they had.  Perhaps seeking a sense of order, or looking beyond order to a more fundamental essence of  a scene.  It gets me to thinking why so many of the images in my library look similar.  Do I seek to reflect some built-in bias I have visually?  Simply capturing what I see doesn’t feel sufficient to explain the commonality among my images.  Even color vs. B&W doesn’t appear to explain much – the images above are essentially the same but I felt one looked better in color and the other not.

It just looks better, but when pressed to explain why I’m pretty much left speechless.  It just does.  That feels like a cop-out (after all, the great photographers appear to have known exactly why their images were different) but I don’t think I know enough to even broach an explanation.

A fundamental question the great photographers appeared to be working on actually lies behind the image.  I create a portrayal of XX that conforms to some criteria I have in my mind, but what makes me think anyone other than me wants to see it?  And if I only care if it’s something I see, why not just pause, stare at it thoughtfully, and then move on.  Why take the time to preserve the scene with an image that by its very nature implies an intent to share the experience?

The soon-to-be great photographers approach the then-great photographers and what is the medium of their preliminary introductions?  Their prints.  They want others to see the images they created.  Not just talk about them (“I saw such a marvelous sunrise at Yosemite one day – let me describe it for you.”) but actually SHOW them.  And in the showing seek some connection or approval or affirmation.  It feels like more than simply “do you like my pictures?” and more of a “do you like how I’m seeing?”

Many times I’ve read how a bunch of photographers can all be standing at the same overlook, all pointing cameras of various styles in essentially the same direction, and all come up with different images.  And among those the typical viewer will find some to be bland, some to be outstanding and most to be “not quite great”.  Was the difference one of equipment or how the photographer was seeing?  Why this scene and not that one?

Is the motivation to photograph one emerging from inside that finds a final expression in the image?  Or is it one absorbed from outside, a fundamental need to connect and share that simply uses images as the conduit?  I’m thinking developing an answer to this will significantly improve my approach to my work.

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2 thoughts on “Puzzled, but still learning

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