17: 21-Mar-2016

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Time for the weekly reads. A bit short this time (you wish!) as I’ve been on leave working around the house (so no reading on the bus!)
First up, I’m going to bang on about the power of photography to tell stories. There are lots of things you can do – photojournalism, creative composition, interactions in nature – you get the idea. What if you want to engage people in your philosophy about the environment or social justice or your pet love/hate? A simple photo may not be enough – and that’s where Robert and Shana Parke-Harrison have been working for more than two decades. Read their story and look at the their images . These are not simple images – you have to earn them – and they had to work to make them, but the images are very engaging.
To get those good images, you also need to be ready to capture them. There are some among us who regard their camera as an appendage – and they have the advantage as they will see something interesting and capture it while you rush home to get your camera. Isn’t that what photography is about? Seeing things and capturing the decisive moment (with apologies to Monsieur Cartier-Bresson) I came across a blog by Erik Kim that encapsulates that concept – and he illustrates it well.
Now why did I raise those two ideas? As many of you know, I feel that club photography can stifle that story as we strive to improve our photography. That involves being judged and seeking feedback. But here is the problem – the feedback we get isn’t always the best – people tend to be polite and say what a great photo. Put your images on Facebook or Flickr or Instagram or have a judge tell you the image in tonight’s competition is a 10 (or a 5) and you’ll have your ego nicely massaged (or bruised). But have you improved? Is your photograph creative or cringe worthy? You need to take good and bad feedback with equal weight. You need to seek a wider audience. Have a read of this short article by Michael Godek who expands on this a bit more.
As an aside, you also need to move beyond the technical (which is what many competition judges regard as important) and into the creative. If the competition is technical (eg macro) then technical is important, but it can also be creative. Move out of your comfort zone. Aim for that next step and I believe your photography will benefit.
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