Being an amateur photographer, I can appreciate much of what’s said in this; at some level of consciousness, I already knew these things, if only by intuition/instinct. When I go places suitable for photographing — meaning, excluding restaurants, movie theaters, etc — I take pictures of anything that catches my eye and survives some amount of visual scrutiny (to make sure it is what I think it is, because the brain’s visual filter can be a real pain in the ass sometimes), and then I photograph the hell out of it while I can. Occasionally, I’ll take some significant time to plan ahead for what I want to do (usually night photos), and I generally like those photos a lot, for a while, while it’s impossible to be objective rather than prideful; after several months without looking at one of those pictures, I’ll evaluate it again and may or may not still like it. Almost invariably, though, other people prefer the shots I took little or no time to set up, in any sense of the word “properly”, over those which I spent time on tending to the details, or subjects I find visually boring for whatever reason. (My subject matter tends to be, well.. not people.) Anyway, this small article illuminates and enumerates nicely, helping me understand better why pointing the camera “over there” is a good idea.
On Being a Photographer – Excerpt
Bill Jay: When we were discussing some definitions you remarked that photography%u2019s core characteristic was to show what something looked like. I think this is an important point because many young photographers seem fascinated with the medium yet have no idea what to photograph.
David Hurn: That%u2019s true. The fundamental issue is one of emphasis: you are not a photographer because you are interested in photography.
BJ: Explain what you mean.
DH: Many people are interested in photography in some nebulous way; they might be interested in the seemingly glamorous lives of top fashion or war photographers; or in the acquisition and admiration of beautiful, functional machines, the cameras; or in the arcane ritual of the darkroom processes; or in the persona which they could adopt if only they took pictures like . . . whoever. But these interests, no matter how personally enjoyable they might be, never lead to the person becoming a photographer. The reason is that photography is only a tool, a vehicle, for expressing or transmitting a passion in something else. It is not the end result. An analogy would be to buy a car for its status appeal, for the idea that it will improve your sex-life, for the smell of the new upholstery, for the fascination with its beautiful engineering, and so on. But it is useless unless it actually takes you somewhere.