...but the hardest of all may just be understanding your own work. Photography is a language.
Do you speak it fluently?
by Skip Cohen
Seth Resnick is back with what may well be one of my most favorite of his posts. To take it a step further, it's a post I wish was mandatory for every artist to read. The issue isn't whether you agree or disagree with him, just the importance of understanding your "Why?" Obviously, there are times when just clicking the shutter has no deeper meaning than contributing to your revenue stream...but I can't help but feel there's always an underlying explanation for why so many of us love this industry.
I've met so many artists in my career and the ones most successful, to Seth's point, speak fluent photography. They don't have to have a camera in their hands to shoot "neurochromes" and still see something most of us might miss. Their images tell a story, capture a memory, and often have a much deeper meaning than just what is shared in print. And it carries further into who we are and why - Seth got me thinking about my writing as well as each time I click the shutter.
Seth is sharing a lot of great concepts on his facebook page. He needs to be on your radar!
by Seth Resnick
Photography isn’t easy. Learning software applications like Photoshop and Lightroom are hard, and understanding all the buttons on the cameras can be confusing to say the least, but the hardest of all may just be understanding your own work. Photography is a language. Do you speak it fluently?
I find that by writing down my thoughts I am better equipped to speak and write the language of photography. Like any language that is studied practice and time certainly help. In developing your skills about photography as a language it is critical to overcome the concept of what your work is about rather than what it is of.
When I first started writing about what my photography was really about I thought it was about entering personal space. I interchanged the word breaking personal space and entering personal space and thought they were the same. In fact a good friend and student Jed Best suggested that I have a show called Breaking and Entering. I thought that was quite clever. For several years my description of my own work started with breaking personal space. After all I started as a journalist and much of my work was about people and to capture them in a personal manner I was either very close or used a long lens to isolate emotion.
The more I started to write and as my work progressed I was bothered by the statement and one day while photographing a rock and writing about it I came to understand that it was really about an energy connection with my subjects or rather my subjects energy connection with me. The more I wrote the more I understood and writing led to my own discovery of Clairsentience which really put my understanding of the language in perspective.
Certain people are born with a mystical sixth sense that allows them to pick up on information about the past, present, and future. We typically call it ESP but for me it is an awareness of additional senses. While we all have five basic senses that help us observe the physical world around us it doesn’t end with just five. There are a variety of ways that people can experience ESP. For me one of the most fascinating is clairsentience, which is the ability to literally feel and acknowledge energy.
This week several things happened that weren’t coincidence. I looked at Leslie and said her son was thinking about her. She looked at her phone and her son just texted her. Three sand hill cranes that have been coming to my house suddenly flew in and they came right up to me as if they were telling me something. A dragonfly then landed on me. I showed Leslie the dragonfly and he stayed on my hand. I thought about him flying away and sure enough he did. No big deal but then I called him back and the dragonfly kept coming back to my hand for over an hour. At the same time there was no wind but the chimes in my back yard started to ring. There were bluejays and cardinals and all of these things were things that my mom loved.
Life comes down to energy and as I continue to write I continue to increase my knowledge about the language of photography.
Many photographers never figure it out and think it isn’t important. I hear so many photographers say that their work isn’t about anything they just like taking pictures. Well maybe, but learning what my images are about has helped me immensely.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.