By now it should be apparent that I am a writer first. Although I dearly love and enjoy photography, the purpose of my photography is to tell a “real world” story. My idea of a “nearly” perfect photo is for it to portray what you or anyone else would have seen had you been there with me. I am not sure if this is what is called journalistic or reality photography, but that is how I see myself—as a writer/journalist who uses photography to spark or advance a story. Almost every image has a story. The story is usually a bit of personal history, natural history, or history-history.
As for the photography, I sort of follow the old newspaper photographer’s mantra; “f8 and be there.”*
All of this reflects the fact that my first real job was teaching high school biology and general science. From a young age—ten or so—when I first got a camera, my interest was to photograph and record everything I encountered. My skills and equipment advanced through high school and college, and when I started teaching, I had a good collection of acceptable transparencies (“slides”) that I could use in different lessons of these courses.
I do so enjoy the work of Leanne Cole, Laura Macky, Dan Shehan and others—whose work routinely rises to the level of true art. At times I am even envious, but not enough to change my approach.
I also enjoy, from time to time, working in Photoshop or other programs to create something approaching artistic, but that is not my primary photographic goal. I don’t mean to sound snobbish at all, but I personally want to convey the raw, “un-managed” view provided by Nature (unless, of course, Nature chooses to throw in her own effects such as fog, dramatic lighting or a mirage).
There are exceptions, sort of. I find that monochrome images often interpret an image better than color, especially, if geometric patterns, textures and/or shadows are more important to the visual image than colors. Also, I do like the “feel” of monochrome, especially when “age appropriate,” such as an historic site or object that would have originally been photographed in black and white, or a sepia tone photo.
New plan for the coming months
In keeping with my self-proclaimed Renaissance persona, I am planning several different topical series over the next few months. The Photo of the Week will continue, but to that I will add another series or two that will have different themes. Of course, all (well most) will include one or more of my photos that relates to the theme.
*As my cousin explained it to me: “…f8 and be there” is a quote attributed to “Weegee”, a photojournalist (real name Arthur Fellig). The phrase is camera geek advice for shooting Tri-X B/W film with a 4×5 Speed Graphic press camera. Large format gives decent to excellent resolution, f8 gives decent depth of field. You can push Tri-X 400 two or three stops to cover low light shots and still have a good image, certainly good enough for a newspaper of the day.
I have used a 4×5 Speed Graphic. It is a handheld view camera that uses sheet film. It is a bear to use, but it takes awesome photos.