Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Purposeful Photographer

The title of today's blog is not my own. It is the title of an article that appeared in the monthly magazine, Outdoor Photographer, written by William Sawalich about the photographer Andy Biggs. It can still be found on their website if you are interested in reading it in it's entirety.

The article hit a chord in my thinking more than any other article about photography I have read in probably the past couple years. I would like to include a quote of one statement Biggs made:

“When people get into photography,” Biggs says, “they’re led to believe a few things: that good gear will yield better photographs and that being at the right place at the right time will help create photographs that stir the soul. I think only part of it’s true. What’s missing is how creativity drives the craft. I often see people with all of the latest gear engage in discussions online and in person that display a deep knowledge on all of the functionality of gear: ‘This button does this and this functionality does that’ kind of talk. So what’s happening is, the craft of photography is driving the creative: ‘If this button does this, then let’s use it.’”

It is cart-before-the-horse type thinking where the technology drives what is done creatively. Dissatisfaction with this method ultimately led him to a different approach to his creative process. He calls it the adjective-driven approach. He consciously made a list of adjectives that described his visual aesthetic and pared it down until he had five words that could be used to describe his photographs.

When I read this article, I realized I had been heading in the same direction but had not reached the stage of development in my thinking which he had. I also have descriptive words that I try to invest in my photographs but I had not consciously compiled a list. This article helped me to assemble a personal list with more self-awareness of what stories I would like my pictures to tell. Having thought about it for several weeks now has allowed me to clarify and refine the list. The photos on today's blog all contain elements of the words on my list. Keep that in mind as you learn what my list contains. More on that tomorrow.

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