A New Personal Approach to Photography [6 min read]

I’ve mentioned my new approach to photography in the recent posts without expanding on the issue. Now this post will cover that. I hope it’s easy to get. (i’m super rusty when it comes to writing these days) Also this is a slightly long read (compared to my usual posts), If you’re not interested in photography and personal ramblings of other people. skip. otherwise, I’d appreciate your opinions on the matter and looking forward to hearing about your own photography approaches.

How It Was Before

The way I used to work is the usual for any photographer I think. Although I’m certain everyone has their own habits and style; I think the shooting-until-you-get-it-right approach is universal. We want to realize our vision and we want the best we can produce so we try different angles and compositions and we shoot until we’re satisfied. Some spend ten minutes processing a photo, others spend ten hours but ultimately all photographers leave the desk only when they’re happy with what they ended up with. At least that’s my impression of serious photographers and also it was more or less how I worked (I’m just an enthusiast though).

Sometimes I walk for an hour just to take one photo that I’ve envisioned 6 kilometers away then just go back home. Of course, I go straight to it, take at least 20 different shots of that same subject, go home open Lightroom and get to work. By the time I’m finished, I’ll have the photo that is closest to my vision before I headed out three or four hours ago. Vision is our key word here. And Intention. I had a vision of the im-age and was aware of what I had to do to make it happen. All the logistical and technical actions that take place while taking a photograph are meant to realize that vision. That’s how it’s been for most of my photos but there was also another way. If you’re a follower of this blog, perhaps you’ve already read about how I came up with my recent series, A Home for Thoughts. There’s a bit of it there but not entirely.

The Idea

The other way or the new experiment I’m practicing right now disregards vision and intention. Imagine bypassing your own imagination and the preparations/decision-making that follows to create photographs. It’s insanely difficult!

If there’s any meaning in my planned photos it’s because I put them there; it was my vision. What about the meaning I “found” in my own random photos; photos that I shot instinctively? Who put those feelings in there? Why am I stirred by them more than the others? That was how I started believing that there’s a voice deep down in me that has something to say and maybe I should give him the space to do so. That is shutting down my ego and my vision and let the other voice surface.

Now, I’m not about to meditate and do stuff like that (it feels like that’s where this is going, doesn’t it?) What I could do is limit the decision-making time and take photos at any time and any place and of any subject. Like I said it is truly difficult to do so. It is also self-contradictory because I am indeed planning this non-planning method of photography! It is however a deeply personal experiment/experience that I believe is interesting enough to try. Maybe not many of you will understand why adopt such approach but I will try to explain the best I can how this whole thing started.

Where It Came From

This new idea (hardly new, only new to me) came from within and without. It was personal and introspective at its roots but also has branches in my own view of how photography became after the rise of social media. There’s also the material aspect (gear and all that!)

You probably do not want to hear about how negative I am anymore. I’ve posted enough with that voice that even I got tired of it. This doesn’t make it any less real though. I am a negative person 99% of the time! I also recently lost a loved one. That did not help at all. That turned me into into a blend of emotions which I couldn’t understand and by extension I couldn’t understand myself or how I exactly felt. What parts of it were right and what parts of it were not so right. I hoped that I could find myself or at least the part that matters to me through photography. The kind of photography where I don’t have to try hard to push for a meaning. Just the opposite, I wanted the photo to show it back to me – the same way some of my random photos showed me things about my states of mind before. Up until this point, the idea was just an idea in my head. What made it into a project (with relatively well-thought out aspects) was something more down-to-earth.

Gear. Anything a photographer needs to produce the visions of his mind. In my case, all I had was a camera with a kit lens and a laptop on which I process my photos (minimalist? no. just can’t afford much!) That laptop got broken beyond repair. And that made a lot of difference because I couldn’t process my RAW files anymore. At that point, having that idea already floating aimlessly in my head, it felt like this was the push it needed to shape up into a clear project. I had no other choice really! I had to relinquish myself to the power of jpeg now! It felt like everything fell into its rightful place and simply made sense that this idea was/is the natural outcome to both my gear and emotional predicament.

Another noteworthy factor was an observation that I held in my mind since the advent of social media. (This is my own opinion) It is almost a belief that the overuse of images in social media ultimately trivialized the value of each image as a potential work of art. Authenticity died where overused app filters made the majority of photos look the same. My turn to film photography was in part because I can’t accepted the authenticity of digital anymore. Unfortunately I don’t have the resources to use film otherwise that’d have been my only approach. Now, me adopting a process-free and instinctive approach is in a way my personal response to this social media issue that ruined digital for me!

Did It Work?

Naturally, it did not. It is almost impossible to rid yourself of yourself! (a more accurate context-based phrase would be: finding yourself by ridding yourself of yourself!) However, there were some photos that had an effect on me which ultimately was the desired outcome of the approach. So maybe it was successful to a certain point. I have posted a few of them here.

Photographers want to produce the best photo possible and we get the photo we want by trial and error most of the time (at least for an enthusiast like me, not much experience) I found myself instinctively fighting back the decision of not making decisions (to better the shot). I tried hard to shoot one-ofs. No duplicates. No trying for better angle. and composition. If I pointed the camera. I made sure I pushed the shutter as quickly as I could. I didn’t care how the photo turned out. That is the whole point.

Ultimately, it became apparent that this approach is just an ideal. In theory, it’s quite clear. In reality, many factors come into play and clash against its very nature. That doesn’t mean I’m abandoning this approach. As I have said before, this is a personal experiment. Even if the photos aren’t technical on the level, some of them meant something to me. I’ll keep on taking photos with whatever’s in my hands and whenever I can. This is less about photography and more about myself. Perhaps photography ended up being a means to an end here.

States of Mind: Uncertainty

Uncertainty taken today at five in the afternoon.

Camera: CyberShot DSC-H7 edited with Analog Efex Pro 2

uncertainty

I am plagued by uncertainty when certainty is required. Perhaps it is in big part the reason why my life isn’t moving forward as fast as I want. I’ve came to believe in doing things in my own pace though. If I haven’t, I’d have gone crazy a long time ago.

Olympus OM-1

I should have started learning photography by using an SLR instead of a digital piece!

A local photographer was more than kind to let me use one of his old SLRs. He gave me a fully manual and fully mechanical camera from 1971. I was hoping for a semi-auto to get me started but hey, I can’t complain. After starting the shoot, I was actually glad that I got this one.

om-1

Its through-the-lens exposure meter is broken so that made using it a real challenge. At first I was overwhelmed but then I thought what the hell! I wanted to test my understand of exposure and light so I embraced the fact. We’ll see in a few days once I get the prints back. I’m pretty sure most if not all of them are off but this is my first roll and I’m not stopping until I master film photography one way or another.

I can tell you one thing I certainly enjoyed shooting with it. The strudiness of it and the sound of its shutter, everything about it. Taking a photo with my mirroless camera takes a couple of seconds; I can always fix it later. With this one, I have to work it out from all aspects and be patient and considerate of everything before I release the shutter. It demands respect for each photo I plan to take. I guess that’s what I learned from my first time using a SLR.

If I’m lucky and one or two photos from today’s roll are good exposures, I’ll scan and post them once the prints are ready. To be honest, I’m not that optimistic.

Walls

 

Today’s photo is titled Walls. And yes, I consider the sky a wall too (or anything concrete and that isn’t endless space!) because I consider my world a bubble. Overall, The photo is a rendition of the future that I see. It might be sunny up there but to me it looks fake.

walls

One Year on WordPress

So WordPress has notified me that I’ve been here for a year.

It didn’t feel like it though. The reason is I’m not contantly active. So far, I haven’t made friends or got myself a big following but I’m pleased to say that I have crossed off a goal from my list of things to achieve by writing a blog. I am now more comfortable in sharing. I may not be where I want to be but It’s definitely a start.

So I guess I’m not leaving wordpress any time soon.

Currently, I have a 106 followers and I want to thank them all. I can’t believe anyone would want to read my depressing poetry or take the time to read my personal rantings but you guys did so thanks!

Recently, I’ve been putting everything I have into photography and I hope you’re enjoying my photos. I’m planning on posting at least a photo everyday through my second wordpress year. I aim to continue my current focus on unconventional photography and also a bit of the nature/landscape stereotypes.

I’ll start with this photo that reflects my state of mind lately which unfortunately is more chaotic than it is stable.

Stable_&_Chaotic

The Word I Didnt Know!

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything based on the Daily Prompts. So I thought it’s about time to check today’s word. Outlier. “I have no idea what that means!” that’s what I thought and that is the truth. English isn’t my native language so nobody can blame me for not knowing a word that doesn’t exist in the 3 dictionaries I own!

Anyways, I looked it up online and imagine my surprise when I finally learned that outlier actually describes me quite accurately.

I’m currently living the whole detachment from society thing. It started with me having a loner type character and a whole different set of interests than the people in my circles. I isolated myself, put everything I have in what I love doing until before I knew it I’m off the board, off the loop and off the map.

I was fine with it for some time until I realized that it wasn’t good for me. I think I talked about this in previous posts. I still don’t mind being an outlier; to my understanding of the term, I think i’m still an outlier but I’m working on changing that.

This blog and these types of posts are in fact part of me trying to change. I know my writing sucks and sometimes quite depressing but it helps me.

speaking of depressing, here’s a depressing self-portrait portraying the outlier within (or rather, without)!

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Chill! Have a Cup of Coffee!

Security is a heavy concept. I spent quite a while thinking about how I can deliver my take on it through a photograph. I didn’t go anywhere with my thoughts. So I said to myself: “Chill! get a coffee then you’ll figure it out.”

That was it! Coffee!

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See, I always think too much into things while I don’t really have to. I just needed to take it easy. What was a complicated concept now is a clear idea in my head.

If I think of security as peace of mind and/or happiness, I guess it’d be a number of things I’d feel comfortable and happy doing like having a cup of coffee or shooting photos among other things.

DSC01176-Edit

About the Photos:

I was playing around with presets in Silver Efex Pro and I settled on these with minor edits because they’re soft on the eyes (at least, softer than my own B&W standard). So yeah, Chill!

Picks from April, 5th 2017

I wanted to shoot this same landscape at sunset hoping that it’d make the sky more interesting. I couldn’t get what I wanted. The problem was my position (the only position from where I can get the same shot) is too low to get me a colorful sunset sky.

That didn’t stop me from shooting a few. I picked this one to share.

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I didn’t shoot HDR. I tried it before and I didn’t like it. I prefer nature/landscape photos to be accurate or slightly enhanced. but I digress. What I want to say is that this photo doesn’t look top quality because I processed it out of the RAW image below. I do think it’s still a decent shot, just not good for print.

raw

After the sun sunk behind that hill, I went up again and looked for interesting silhouette subjects and found none. Luckily, my friend was with me and I took a few shots. I picked this one (it’s a cliché but still). Usually, sun flares are no good and I avoid them as much as possible but this one sort of made the shot.

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We went on a little further. I looked for more subjects, still nothing except this fence post of a fence that isn’t there! anyway, I grabbed a few shots here.

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On my way back home, I found this unfinished building (don’t know if it’s a house or not) with some grass in the front and the toppled barrel. I thought it’s a great chunk of imperfection.

When shooting in my hometown, I close the door on shooting perfect-looking photographs and be ready to look around and capture the things that make my town what it is, a faithful portrayal.

Anyone else in town wouldn’t shoot this unfinished house because it looks plain and if they did, they wouldn’t put the barrel in the frame. I truly believe that barrel made the shot! This is my town and this is how it looks like. Period.

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Here’s another patch of my town.

It’s not the most beautiful photo, that’s for sure. But the fact that I put bits of my town into a frame is a statement in itself. I’m making it beautiful and interesting.

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The next two are my favorites of the day! I found an old and abandoned house. I called it Frankenstein’s House and you’ll see why.

Frankenstein's_House-Door.jpg

Frankenstein's_House-Window.jpg

This turned out to be a longer post than I thought. sorry about that. I hope you enjoyed the photos. no worries if you didn’t though. You can lay it on me on a comment. I appreciate feedback. 🙂

Hope from the Lamp

These are one kind of photos I create when I’m bored inside the house, minimlistic black and white abstracts.

I took the photos. I edited them. And I had no idea what I was creating; It was me killing time, that’s all. However, now when I look at them, there is too much blackness and it feels like it’s trying to envelop the little bit of light left which is strong enough to hang on and actually manage to stay within the frame.

If I saw that much hope in these extremely simple frames then I guess I’m not as cynical as I thought.