Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Self-reflection or "F-YEAH PICTURES"!

So it has been some time since I have blogged. Having a newborn daughter, holidays, sickness, and various other things going on will do that to you.

Fear not, I have been productive.

First off, for those of you who have come looking for photos (hi mom!), you COULD skip to the end of this post, but if you do, it's your loss.
A quick note for the uninitiated (read: the other 12 people): I will use language in this post such as "art" and "work", not because I feel particularly comfortable with these terms, but because those are the terms we (the people who talk about these things) use. I don't intend to be pretentious, so if it comes off that way, well, go fuck yourself.

OK. Onward!

Recently, I have come to the realization (or have simply accepted/admitted) that I want - have always wanted - to make art. That's not the same thing as being an artist, I get that. I'm not sure I will ever be one of those, but - in my mind - the time I spend with my camera will be a journey, not a disjointed series of snapshots.

 The fun is in the process, not the label.

As a result of this, I have seriously reflected on my work, and really tried to nail down:

What do I take pictures of, and why?

All the photographers whose work I really enjoy have a distinct style; their images can generally be described by a genre (or a specific combination thereof).
I decided that I need, and want, that to be true of my own images. I feel that would give me direction and help me stay (become?) focused.

In order to answer the above, I spent a lot of time saying to myself:

Well, there are a lot of things I don't do - like weddings, portraits, wildlife, flowers, etc.

As unproductive as that was at answering the question at hand, I think it was ultimately helpful to see just how multi-faceted photography is, which in turn got me thinking about maybe finding my niche in an area of photography that simply hasn't been defined and labelled.

With that in mind, I started looking closer at what I do, and what emerged - from the seemingly random mishmash of images in my portfolio - was a deceptively common theme. I call it:

Photos of the human presence, without humans present.

So what does that mean in a practical sense, and what other genres might (have) encompass(ed) my photos?
This is:

What I thought I did before I thought about it.

If you ignore the outliers (let's call that deviation of focus), there are a few categories I fit into (not "shit", though some might argue the point).

Abstract is an obvious one, and it was the first label that I could immediately place on certain photos. In fact, I feel that remains true for many of my images.
However, "abstract", though fairly broad in scope, didn't come close to covering everything I captured. Still-life was another, along with poorly disciplined architecture, not-so-natural landscapes, and quasi-macro closeups.

I finally had my epiphany while thinking about street photography; easily one of my favourite disciplines. It dawned on me that, while I was not a "street photographer", I certainly practised like one. I try to bring my camera everywhere, and the pictures I take tend to be of  things that surround us, and yet are still overlooked by the masses. Street photographer Eric Kim describes what he does as "finding beauty in the mundane", and when I heard that, I immediately thought:

 Ignoring the fact that he's talking about people, that's exactly what I do!

Great, now I know what kind of pictures I take, but why do I take them? For instance, why aren't I that street photographer, or why do I make "street" images with "no subject"?

Well, to be honest, I don't like society. Maybe that's a bit harsh. Don't get me wrong, I like people, and I'm not anti-social. But I'm just drawn to the story that can't/won't be told in any other medium. We are surrounded every day by, as my wife calls it, our "precious shit". All these things share our experiences without us even noticing, and they wear that history as plain as day. Essentially what I realized is:

The things I like most about humanity are as honestly reflected in human artifacts as they are in people themselves.

So those are the pictures I take.

Or maybe I'm full of shit, you decide.


"They all float down here" by Instant Kamera (instantkamera)) on 500px.com
"They all float down here" by Instant Kamera

Fishy Church by Instant Kamera (instantkamera)) on 500px.com
Fishy Church by Instant Kamera

A rare almost-natural abstract:

Organism VS. The Divide by Instant Kamera (instantkamera)) on 500px.com
Organism VS. The Divide by Instant Kamera

Careful, I see a person in there Mr No-street-photography:

Waiting for cargo by Instant Kamera (instantkamera)) on 500px.com
Waiting for cargo by Instant Kamera

A couple shots north of the border:

(Taco) Hell frozen over by Instant Kamera (instantkamera)) on 500px.com
(Taco) Hell frozen over by Instant Kamera

Sign of the Times by Instant Kamera (instantkamera)) on 500px.com
Sign of the Times by Instant Kamera

Pipe Dream by Instant Kamera (instantkamera)) on 500px.com
Pipe Dream by Instant Kamera

Me and people - I told you so!:
No pictures, please by Instant Kamera (instantkamera)) on 500px.com
No pictures, please by Instant Kamera

Peace out.