Comments, gear and the creative process

All pictures above shot yesterday afternoon in 
Stratford upon Avon with a Nokia 1020 and 
Sony A7r + 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens.
Processed using Snapseed, Photoshop and Instagram. 

 The above two shots were taken, as an experiment, with my Voigtlander 20mm fitted to my Panasonic GX7. The lens was set to f/11 with the hyperfocal distance at f/8. Images were shot at high ISO's on the GX7 and processed in Snapseed and Photoshop. It's a nice 'dreamy' retro, low saturation look that I like and somewhat different to my usual high saturation and high contrast preference. A nice alternative to have.

Somebody wrote this in a comment in one of my Google+groups.

'....your camera tastes/style/phases change quicker than a tween posting selfies on an iPhone....'

Even if it was true, which it's not, so what? Do musicians have to put up with this? 'You used lots of different guitars on your last album and you have songs in different styles - tut tut'

It's about as relevant as mentioning how many paintbrushes a painter has or pointing out that a sculptor keeps changing chisels!!

I do get pretty annoyed with this, because it's yet another example of how people regard the gear as more important than the photography. It also shows something else. The fundamental lack of understanding that photography is a creative process and that people involved in any creative process have to be constantly open to new ideas, new ways of working, new possibilities. That's the nature of creativity. Picasso worked in a variety of different styles and mediums. David Bowie is known for completely changing his approach, style, musicians and content from album to album. 

I have got comments like this a lot over the years and first off it's pretty rude. I don't make disapproving personal comments about how they choose to work and take pictures to the people who read this and I expect the same in return. I also make no comment about the gear people use or the frequency with which they change it. (or not) 

It also shows a complete misunderstanding of what it's like to be a professional photographer. No matter what field we work in, every time we go out to shoot we have to get results. And just recycling the same old stuff with the same old camera / lens combinations and with the same old look isn't going to help our future earning prospects. Too often artists in any field have had success with one way of working and haven't been able to move beyond that. At the height of their popularity, they are much in demand, but tastes change, styles change and it's the savvy artist who moves on before their admirers do.

Am I over reacting? Well maybe, but my blog, my rules. And if anyone else feels the need to make comments like this, then think again. Because you'll suffer the same fate as the poster of the above trite comment, which is to have your hook slung. Because as I keep ON and ON and ON about, this is a blog about making pictures. The top banner says

Photography and it's means of production.
And that's what cameras, lenses and all the paraphenalia that comes with being a photographer these days is. A means of production. Not the be all and end all, as some seem to believe. And a gear obsessed photographer is a static photographer. And a static photographer who thinks they have all the answers is a bad photographer.

One of the things that permeates the photographic internet is a kind of dead hand certainty. A conviction on the part of some pundits and commentators that they are sorted. They have found the answer to all their photographic questions. They then of course gratuitously share it with the rest of us, much to our undying gratitude!!

For me, certainty and the answers to the questions is creative death. Because contentment breeds complacency. Cows are contented, but I haven't seen any of them produce any great art lately. For me, the constant state of flux I'm in is what it's all about. The kind of pictures I take and the ways I take them, edit them and present them is constantly changing. And that's the way I like it. I never thought a certain amount of bi-polarity was harmful anyway. Because what do we do when we're satisfied? What do we do when we have those answers to the questions that we hopefully pose ourselves? I would venture to suggest that we'll do nothing much at all.

So where I'm currently headed may be a dead end, a wrong turn and yet again it could be a resounding commercial and aesthetic success. So, it could be my Tin Machine or my Let's Dance, who knows. What I do know is that I have no intention of 'reigning myself in' either intellectually, artistically or in terms of what I buy, what I sell and what I make pictures with. I trust my instincts and they haven't let me down so far, so I'm inclined to carry on in much the same way. I'm incredibly energised by what I'm doing at the moment and I'll work out whether what I'm producing is any good at a later date. Because I'm having far too good a time to bother with that now. 

Finally to show where this all ends up. Here's a couple of links to some of my current picture library portfolios.

  • All original material on this blog is © Please Respect That
  • N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) at the bottom of this post.