I used to be in a camera club a few years back. I would go to these meetings religiously because it was about the only way I could connect with other photographers. We would always have a competition at each meeting and the winning photographs would continue on to the next level (regionals) and sometimes to the state and national levels.
To the members of this club the rules were carved in stone and it was mandatory for each new member to understand them clearly if they ever planned on having their photographs included in the winner’s circle.
All the winning photographs always looked the same too – …beautiful sunsets with orange and blue skies, pretty flowers in pretty vases on pretty tables, still life arrangements with fruit, etc., etc., etc. And each one sharp as a tack with textbook exposure.
I’ll never forget the time one of the (senior) members was looking at one of my photographs (one that I was pretty happy with as I’d just gotten back from two weeks at The Maine Photographic Workshops (now known as Maine Media) in Rockport, ME, and said, “Now see, if you’d only used a tripod here – you’d really have something!”. I just smiled and shook my head in agreement and thanked him for the advice, knowing that at that very moment my camera club days were numbered. Not because I thought I was a better photographer or because I thought I knew more than these people – it wasn’t that at all. I just knew, at that very moment, that if I continued to stick around i ran the risk of letting their limited thoughts and ideas on what ‘real’ photography was influence my ideas of what I thought ‘creative’ photography was.
And I haven’t looked back.
I learned a lot about the foundation of photography from these generous and friendly folks and appreciate what they shared but I also learned it was just the jumping off point. Creativity can’t be boxed in like that. It ceases to be creativity!
I enjoy making images using the Lensbaby, toy cameras, plastic cameras, pinhole cameras, I love SX70 film and Polaroid cameras, I hate hauling around my tripod, I love to shoot through the window or a dirty windshield, will shoot while jumping up and down, I like an occasional blown out highlight, I love really high key images, I’m a self portrait freak, I take more photographs of my feet than you’d ever believe, (I take pictures of other people’s feet!), I shoot at odd angles, no angles, wide angles, in the dark, in the bright light, in infrared, a LOT in infrared, use wacky filters, shoot from moving vehicles, use the wrong exposure intentionally… and I do all these things on purpose!
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, ‘every photograph is a self portrait’. It just means that the images we make reflect something of who we are and how we see the world because we put something of ourselves into the image. It’s what makes that image our image and no one else’s.
I can spend hours browsing through images I’ve taken – it truly is an enjoyable past time for me. These photographs aren’t necessarily great or award-winning but they hold some magic sometimes.
I guess its kind of like keeping a diary; a visual diary – full of memories and emotions that couldn’t be put into words if I tried.