Well ain’t this grand. I logged into my WordPress account today to begin to write my next post and found a completely new editor. I was warned that it was coming, but I ignored it. Far from being “easy” and “versatile” and “quick”, it requires that I select “blocks” of content types, arrange them on a page, fill in the content of each block and test the layout for views on computers, tablets and phones. I’ve never been good with puzzle pieces, and I won’t use more than half of the block types available, so the change was a less than stellar one for me.
I didn’t intend this to be the topic of my post, but somehow it is fitting. Being forced to change my paradigm is a good thing right now. Everybody needs a restart or a refresh from time to time. But my first reaction was admittedly “WTF”. I’ve had more of those moments this week too.
Ok, so the initial shock has worn off and I’m now getting used to selecting and dropping in content blocks. Even images drop in seamlessly. But I have to change the way I think about my post. I typically write the text, then drop in content. Not any more. Content placement first, then writing the text. Getting there. But on to something more important.
I called this entry crossroads because that is where I am. A weekend experience at a virtual photography workshop has left me pondering the next step in my photography evolution. My senses were awash with amazing images from photographic artists, each of whom had not only established their own photographic style, but were in a position to explain, illustrate and teach it to people like me. In each case though (almost each case), the artists asked themselves (and suggested we ask ourselves) a series of questions when arriving on a scene or beginning a new project:
- what do we see when we first arrive on a new scene or are starting a new project?
- what do we feel when we first arrive?
- what decisions have we made on how to interpret that feeling?
Photography is, after all, an interpretation of reality. Although some say there is no such thing as reality, let’s assume for the sake of argument that there is. Our cameras, by definition, let in specific wavelengths of light in specific dynamic ranges, eliminating some of the physical information from the scene. They then convert that light into digital data, again eliminating some of the “real” information from the scene. Our cameras also have a field of view that, in a single frame, is far more limited than ours. So right out of the gate, there is interpretation.
There are really four types of interpretation, I have concluded:
- informational – what the camera sees
- documentary – what I see and how I use the camera to capture it
- pictorial – what I see, how I feel about it, and how I use the camera and any subsequent editorial decisions to showcase what I feel
- artistic – what I see, how I feel about it, and how I use the camera and any subsequent editorial enhancements to embellish what I feel
At this point in my photographic journey, I’m more interested in the feelings and enhancements offered by photographic artists than I am in the mechanics of any other type of interpretation. And really it has nothing to do with photography. I’d be in the same place observing painters, sculptors or musicians. I want to be able to express my feelings through my craft, smiling or crying when an image I work on reaches the point of evoking those feelings.
We are told that to be better photographers we need to shoot lots. I’m not convinced of that any more. Instead, shooting is prompted by the need to express how I feel. Some weeks, that means shooting lots. Other weeks, not so much. Some weeks, I’ll release several images I have an emotional attachment to. Other weeks, not so much.
I’m also no longer convinced that everyone needs to get “better”. As with any skill, there is a basic level of competence that takes time to attain, practice to drive it and the “tools of the trade” to enable it. Once that plateau is reached though, instead of getting “better”, you need to choose a road to travel. A crossroads. It seems mine will be the artistic.