Saturday, June 16, 2012

Out of the Box

This started out as a rant about the Out of the Box print competition category at the club I attend. However, it segued into a different rant:

Unfortunately in camera clubs there are very rigid and very arbitrary, in my opinion, rules for judging. All these rules follow the conventional wisdoms based strictly on photographic technique. This, again in my opinion, stifles the photographer’s native creative instincts and forces them into a much more restricted view of what a photograph is or can be. I call it formularizing photography. Technique is important, very important. My objection is that the emphasis is on the how of technique without the why of technique. As a result many camera clubbers become photographic technicians rather than, again in my opinion, photographers who can use the visual language of photography. They end up with little if any concept of content; little exposure to reading a photograph if even having any concept that a photograph (actually all photographs) makes a statement.

This not only applies to camera clubs, it is every bit as true of Internet photographic forums. The end result is cookie cutter photography. Now, true, that may be exactly what the majority of photographers need from photography. And possibly, those that need more may be able in some instances to break away from the mind set and do more with their photography.

So maybe my crusade is of little value—but it’s like all the other for the sake of humanity causes—“if only one…..” You, of course, can fill in the blank. Maybe it is just because I am so discouraged and dissatisfied with my own photography and am looking for something outside of myself to blame. Maybe I just can’t take the heat and should get out of the kitchen. Who knows what it is? But whatever it is it makes me sad. I often question myself as to why I feel the need to change the attitudes of other photographers—why can’t I just be satisfied when they are satisfied? Okay, the question is somewhat rhetorical but it still has a very self centered answer—if they are able to move forward then maybe there is hope for me also to be able to move. So what if you miss Shakespeare or Hemmingway because you are satisfied with reading We Three and Scottie. Does it really matter? I don’t know.

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