Monday, 29 February 2016

David Moses - Here is what you can do with the the rules of photography

Lately I’ve been bored with photography. Well, not with photography exactly but by photographs. There is a process which every photographer goes through - when you first get a camera and set out to take pictures it is totally instinctual. You don’t have any style because you don’t know any styles. The shots come from the heart and if you are open enough to it, you get joy from those pictures. There are a lot of misses, but the hits really feel good.

Then, you want to find out more. So you read about photography, you learn about it. You get books that teach you about composition, technique and everything else and you begin to take pictures in the same way as other people who have learned the same things you have. The pictures become formulaic.

Then it gets worse, because people start applying these rules to every image and rubbishing the ones that don’t fit i.e. that image doesn’t have the rule of thirds, that image has blown out highlights, that image is blurry etc etc. This makes people afraid to do anything outside of these rules and they learn to hate their own voice. Now, my totally uninformed opinion on this is that most people doubt themselves and so doubt that their own view is worth anything.

Now, I will state here that I think this process is necessary in order to grow and develop (no pun intended). But you must put these things aside. The rule of thirds is nonsense, correct exposure is nonsense and I could go on, but you get the gist. None of these things matter.

What set me off on this was viewing Martin Parr’s recent work about the Rhubarb Triangle. I read comments about how Martin Parr is a poor photographer who doesn’t know what he is doing. I just couldn’t believe it. He abandoned typical viewpoints and photographic tropes and shot from his heart, giving us new work, from his eye alone. His legacy is enormous and his work valuable and enlightened. An inspiration to us all. Bloody keyboard warriors.

So how do you stop taking picture that look just like everyone else’s? You must actively set about abandoning these conditions. Stop using the same visual language as everybody else and start playing around. Take whatever you have learned and do the opposite.

David Moses

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