Stripping away the Gimmicks

Next time you come across a photograph you think is good, try this basic exercise.

Simply question why it has caught your eye.

Do you like the fact infra red was used? Or the sepia tone? The colours or the printing technique? Is it the strained expression of a sportsman or a dancer poised beautifully in mid air? Was this done perhaps with a motordrive giving the photographer hundreds of images to choose from? Is it the fact that the photographer was in an amazing location or had access to a warzone? Is the power behind the image simply the fact that the child is dying or perhaps the sheer scale of the waterfall? Or is it the rare animal caught on camera that happened to set off a sensor while the photographer was fast asleep?

In your mind’s eye strip all this away. Ruthlessly.┬áNow what is left?

Do you still think it is a beautiful or powerful image? Or is it now a dull, middle of the road photograph with little imagination in the composition. Chances are the photographer has failed to take an image that has included his own soul and personality within it. A photograph should not rely on the subject matter or whatever gimmick was used to give it it’s power or beauty.

Now apply this criteria to your own work. Ruthlessly. It can be soul destroying sometimes. But when your images start to pass this test, the feeling you get, the knowledge that your images will stand the test of time, is immense.

Latest

F01-33D_blog_cover

Under the Stars in Madagascar

There are times when writing about memories from as far back as my eighteenth year feels wrong. How

Blog_Viewpoints_Cover

Viewpoints

The Rooftop Collective exhibition edition VI Tempus Fugit. So they say. Here we are again, another Rooftop Collective

Blog_West_of_the_Sun_Trailer

West of the Sun trailer

A huge thank you to Jim Shannon for putting together this wonderful trailer for ‘West of the Sun’.

Blog_Joe_Plage_de_Saleccia_Sunset_Corsica_August_2016

No Strings Attached

Photography has become my art. Photography has become important. Laden. Very serious. Photography has become entangled in a

Memories

Blog_F05-14A

They are no longer alive

Photography can mean so many different things to different people. One of the most poignant and common thoughts

Blog_F01-33B

The shitting fields

India 21-04-11: Driving towards Delhi from Mathura, early in the morning as the sun came up, mist rising,

Blog_F06-06A

Failed trips or the art of flexibility

Failure can be a strong word. It’s no big deal, and not something I am particularly hung up

South_Yemen_Flag copy

Confiscation in Aden

This was one of those moments when something inside you withers away and dies. I was only just

Randomly Selected

Blog_F25-46B

Speedometers and Bikes

When cycling around Eastern Europe it was very low-tech for Morgan and I. Our decision was spur of

National_Portrait_Gallery_Logo

The National Portrait Gallery: Irving Penn

Irving Penn: Portraits at The National Portrait Gallery until the 6TH of February 2010: I went to see

Childs_I_Foundation_Logo

Child’s i Foundation

Working on Big Brother, even on a freelance basis as I have done since it started, you meet

Blog_From_Rob_Iceland

The Path Less Travelled?

Think of a landscape photographer and you may see Ansel Adams trekking up the side of a mountain