When I share pictures today, or when I sold stock photography or prints in yesteryear, I never really cared the reason behind anyone’s motivation to buy or to view them. Except of course when I was selling imagery, I wanted to sell more and knowledge can be a good thing. Just the same, for personal satisfaction, if someone liked my images, for any reason, that was enough for me.
I am a strong believer in variety in picture-taking. Eclectic is a word I practice. Even when I somewhat limited myself to nature, which I never did completely, my goal was not only to photograph every nature subject imaginable, but to use every photographic treatment that might occur to me. Yesterday was yesterday, today is today, and tomorrow will be tomorrow. Learn and see something new every day. After all of these years I still enjoy sharing an image that is a sharp, informative piece of natural history, and then sharing an abstraction of reality the next time. Maybe something soft and surreal. What always amazes me is that only a small portion of the picture viewing (and commenting) world, will accept both sorts of images. The same people usually comment on the straight forward imagery each time, and then the surreal stuff has their own followers/commentators. Most of those commentators (of each type) are generally photographers too. Does it cross over into their own imager? Yes I think it does. They like viewing the same sorts of images that they make.
I think most photographers begin with a very narrow mind, and slowly it opens up to new things. The question is, do you just change what you like (subject or style), or does your mind (and vision) accompany a greater variety of ways of “seeing” any given subject?
I had a photographer friend, one that is a published image maker, who specialized in wildlife. I mean he specialized in wildlife. He was interested in everything in nature but he would look at a rare flower, and enjoy it, but he would never bother to make a picture. Was it a vision thing? When I say he was a wildlife photographer I mean birds and mammals. One day he drove past me while I lay prone in the grass photographing a Snapping Turtle digging her nest. He never seemed to consider making pictures. His reasoning, whatever it might have been, had nothing to do with not wanting to bother the turtle, or fear, he just didn’t photograph turtles. While he was more narrow in his scope than anyone I have known, in general, it was common back then to keep a very limited focus and photograph a very small selection of subjects. I am almost incapable of walking past a flower or a turtle, or for that matter a dilapidated old shack or a rusty old hub cap, and not making pictures.
Nearly 30 years ago, early one morning I was out searching for dewy dragonflies and butterflies, and not having any success. An acquaintance/photographer happened upon me and asked how I was doing. I replied “not very damn well”. He quickly slid down into the grasses to make pictures and I figured this is just not my day. He walks right up, and in seconds he finds a dew covered creature. Not really. He was photographing the dew on some grass. He had vision. I made dewy grass pictures that morning and hundreds of times since. Some of my most popular images were merely a drop of dew, and a blade of grass or a leaf of a plant. I learned how to see what I was missing that morning. I owe him a dept of gratitude.
The photographic world is however, changing.
I will admit that at least among the world’s top photographers, I am seeing variety like never before. Wildlife photographers creating landscapes. Flower photographers making images of wild mammals. Nature photographers creating pictures of indigenous people’s, and even model photographers making (and teaching) landscape photography. I know that some of that is in search of an audience that will contribute monetarily to their careers, but mostly I think it is an ever-widening vision.
I do enjoy watching what the best photographer/interpreters of today are doing. It tells me that eventually, even those with a very narrow focus begin to see the whole world through the eyes of a photographer.
Seeing is believing.
Just a few random images.
Go out today and fulfill your visions,
God Bless, Wayne