A great line in Bryan Peterson’s The Art of Seeing online workshop series asks the question, “Do you often see what other miss, or are you inclined to miss what others see“?
Bryan Peterson is a writer/photographer from my era (John Shaw, Galen Rowell, etc.), and he has always seemed to me to be a great teacher, of both the technical aspects of image making, and the creative side. Nobody can make you creative, but there are those who can send you down the right road.
The act of thinking about photography can be as important as doing it. I am not talking about memorizing the Xs and Os, although you can do that too, I am talking about looking at your work, a realizing what kind of photographer you are. How do you approach every aspect of your photography. How do you plan a photo shoot or trip? Do you go out with no preconceived ideas or direction, or maybe you over plan? Are you satisfied with your work? You need to know (my opinion) when you’ve made quality images, but ( my opinion again) you can spend too much time worrying about what others think about your work. This is true (there’s that opinion again) even if you are in the business of selling your work.
I can honestly sit here and tell you, that I can no longer remember what all of my published work was published in. I can tell you that it has been published in magazines, books (art, travel and textbook), cards, posters, calendars, as well of course, as prints. I am not bragging, only sharing what kind of photographer I thought of myself as. That would be a stock photographer. To me that meant producing a wide variety of work, in a wide variety of styles. I thought of myself as versatile. From textbook informational, to fine art abstractions, I loved where I fit in the photographic scheme of things. My view of myself, allowed me to constantly add new subjects to my list, and to create images that were different today than they were yesterday. I had a few regular customers, but I was always after new ones, regardless of what genre they published in.
The Art of Seeing, is not proprietary to Bryan, it is been used by others including myself many years ago. There is good reason for that, it is a profound grouping of words. The idea that how you or I see things, is or can become art in and of itself, is worth thinking about. Is there art contained within our personal vision? Are the differences between how I see a potential photographic subject, and how you see it, artistic differences, or intellectual? Me thinks both.
Knowing who you are can be beneficial in all walks of life. It allows you to plan your day (month, year) in a productive fashion. I may not make the same decisions as you about any given subject, because I may see trouble for me down the road because I lack your will power, or your ability to see a more clear vision of the road ahead. If I plan accordingly, I save myself grief.
With that concept firmly in place, my ability to “see myself”, needn’t stand in the way of my creativity. That includes those serendipitous moments when I need (as a photographer, writer, etc.) to react viscerally instead of logically. Knowing who we are, is a creative advantage just as much as it is a fundamental advantage. It both, allows us to react emotionally when it benefits us, and logically (common sense) when we need logic.
Below are images from some photographer/artists who seem to know, exactly who they are.
I try to include some wildlife photography in most of my “varied theme” posts here on Earth Images.
I am not sure of the owl species in this shot, but the picture is a beauty by Donald M. Jones. It exemplifies the clean and simple principal for powerful images. Really, it’s just a tiny owl, a conifer branch, and a clean background. Less is often more.
Little critters like Red Mason Bees (female) are wildlife too, and I always enjoy these super close-ups when the insect is covered with pollen. John Kimbler made the photo.
Nature’s abstractions have become an entire category for photographers. Images like this one from Jeff Johnson are both abstract art, and literal natural history. So is this a super close-up, and medium close-up, or an aerial photo of an entire stretch of beach? Is that a stone I see or a boulder? This is 3rd Beach in Washington State.
Light + Man
Low level light conditions in nature, along with structures and light made by man, often result in powerful pictures.
Jennifer Wu, often combines nature and man to create dreamy yet powerful images. She make a variety of sorts of images, but it seems she knows exactly who she is. The bridge is near Sacramento, CA.
Kevin Finn McNeal is a world traveler and nature landscape artist, who from time to time, adds man the equation. He made this picture in Venice, Italy and I am glad he did.
Finally we have a sunrise. I am not sure where this was made and I admittedly do not know a thing about Aleskei Malygin. I do know this, I love this picture. It is the perfect way to end today’s portfolio of images.
Here’s to knowing who we are, Wayne