“Photography isn’t about capturing what’s in front of us. It’s more about capturing what is within us.“
- Bruce Perry
I think this is one of the hardest concepts to grasp in our journey to becoming an artist. Often as photographers we get really excited about capturing what’s infront of us that we loose touch with our ability to interpret it and bring what’s within us out.
I left the notion of trying to capture what’s infront of me behind many years ago once I really started to grasp the essence of the medium.
A photograph is a two dimensional object or rendering, usually on paper (my preference with its existence bound in reality) or shown momentarily on a screen. It usually has four sides and is rectangular (or square, again my personal preference). It has a limited contrast ratio, it is fixed in time. It is not reality nor some purveyor of truth.
Being a representative of truth has become the mediums downfall in recent years. Even photojournalists and picture editors put thier own personal bent on anything that is published. The words added change the meaning and hence the messages are manipulated.
Now with photoshopping so prevalent, and computational photography on the rise, truth in the art falls even further away with the medium.
Actually, our prepencety for quick entertainment fixes through social media has also changed the medium. We now consume photographs at an alarming rate, flicking through photo streams, and when something does grab our attention it is only for us to linger a moment longer.
But, I am wandering way too much from the original thought that my mate Bruce is saying. If you are not familiar with his work I recommend taking a moment to look him up. Based in the UK his colour work is stimulating and his writing interesting.
Photography is a medium of personal expression. One that can easily be shared with others. One that is full of limitations that can be manipulated and played with. It’s recent entrance to the masses, which Kodak started many years ago, that phones now do with ease. For me it’s popularity and ease of access is something to be celebrated in the medium, and not to be lamented as some do with the changing medium.
It is definitely not a static medium. It’s full of life and growth.
The challenge will always be, to use it as a means of expression. Self expression. A tool of communication. I am excited about photography’s future.
A monumental monolyth at Cathedral Rocks, Kiama. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019