I also enjoyed the sense of building something, in this case, building photographs, offered by the craft of photography.
As this post is another of several wherein I have broached the concept, I will repeat a reference to a photograpehr whose work I have enjoyed, who hinted at this shooting by emotional feel.
Ernest Haas, hinted at it. Paraphrasing closely, he said, Beauty pangs and when it pangs most is when I shoot.
I identified so much with the profundity of this statement, that I still think of it often, although I read it many years ago in a Time Life Photography book, if I recall correctly, alongside of one of Ernest Haas landscape photos. It seemed to give me license to keep doing what I was doing--that is taking pictures as guided by feel as opposed to any real conscious thought.
I long ago mastered many of the technical aspects that go into the science and the craft of photography; some of these techniques are antiquated to the rapidly by-goning days of film--but most are still relevant. I have by now learned if not mastered enough of the digital counterparts to be a competent digital photographer. I got an early start with these technologies as I was involved in the marketing of many digital technologies and products. It did not come as easily to me as it might to some, because my brain/mind has always done a fine balancing act between being technical or being literal.
Mathematicians often make good artists, I suppose because they can more easily can suspend the need for literal understanding in favor of the abstract. I was raised in a family of mathematicians, and they were by-the-way, also all fine artists. But I was never a mathematician. By sheer osmosis, I probably gained a better than average understanding of mathematics and other technical things. I recall as early as the first and second grade thinking that I hated arithmetic--not that I didn't find it useful and even interesting, but because it always seemed to come right after lunch when I was sleepy and I got a headache. It still gives me a headache if I am not in the mood to engage that part of my brain--and over the years in deference to pursuits more stimulating to my brain--I have developed a deep-seated preference for things more literal. And interestingly, I discovered that I am a narcoleptic--so the sleepiness complaint was not contrived.
I referenced pbotographer Ernest Haas. The following is link that feaures some of his work: https://www.photographersgallery.com/by_artist.asp?id=43
Writing has always come easy for me. I have never had to think much when I write (and it shows sometimes). Mom was a writer. If she was not a mathmatician, it was lost on me.
But photography, an interest that I gained early in life owing to Dad's serious photography hobby in my earliest formative years, has seemed to serve a different expressive need for me. It was just technical enough to engage my brain at a challenging level without being so technical that it gave me a headache. I loved the practical aspects of the chemistry without having to fully understand all the placement of every electron in orbit around a nucleus or whatever it is they orbit around.
I also enjoyed the sense of building something, in this case, building photographs, offered by the craft of photography. Maybe it is creativity, or maybe it is something less, but akin to. Regardless, I did not fully realize how important a creative outlet photography was serving for me until once when I had no access to it after it had been a pretty constant for most of my life.
After about a month, I was ready to cry uncle, when I got an opportunity to reengage as a photographer with a reporter who had befriended me as an adjunct to his sports and news stories for a local newspaper. I don't now recall the details of the shoot, but I do recall how good it felt to be back behind the camera.
There is something about those long cold shadows against golden warmth cast by the late afternoon sun in winter that pangs my emotions with a notion of hope--I suppose of Spring.
It was in a marvel to analyze this iceberg of a revelation that I started to be so consciously aware of the deep emotional triggers (or lack of) behind my photographs. And how strung-out I was on photography. That was of a near half-century ago.
Better is subjective. But it is tangible when you lay the pictures out in front of a subject thousands upon thousands of times, and you can predict which pictures they will like best themselves, which pictures their moms will like best, which pictures their boyfriends will like best, which pictures the agencies will like, which picture the newspapers will like, and which pictures get not even gain a second look. So better is also a fairly universal thing.
Let me here make a side note about this phenomenon, which is not really on-topic, but which is worthy of mentioning in a broader context of photography business advice--while I am thinking about it. In business, after a while, I would not even bother to show subjects the proofs that I knew they would not like. If they asked about a particular pose they remembered me taking, which rarely they did, I would just say, it didn't turn out well having indicated in advance that I would not bother them with closed eye shots, etc. (And DO yourself a favor and never show anyone a picture with a fatal defect--which is admittedly more rare today with image-correction software, and do not show anyone any photograph that you have taken of them with their eyes closed and what-not.)
[There is some universal law that dictates that those defective photographs with eyes closed and what-not will be the images your subjects, agencies, families,next-of-kin like best, with the muttering out loud or under-breath, I sure wish my eyes were open in that one--it's the best one! Damn. Learn it the hard way if you must, but learn it you will, as this law is as sure as salt is salty.]
If I were just today learning photography, on my own, as I did back when--which is pretty inconceivable given all the now available resources to be had--I probably would not have gained the technical understanding of photography that I did. I learned this science and craft of photography as a means to an end. Although I found some modicum of enjoyment in the semi-technical aspects of photographer for its own sake, I probably would have gone straight to the chase and skipped it all if I could have. and I could have. Given the immediate feedback of digital cameras--not having to guess and extrapolate and visualize and bracket and then compare the results later, sometimes much later, after the film was processed and prints chosen and printed--I can see that a whole different paradigm of learning could or would be used in today photography environment.
Immediate feedback is awesome! Digital cameras rock! If I miss anything about the old days of photography, it is the passing odor of unhealthy darkroom chemicals and other such silly things. The mystery of seeing images come up in a darkroom tray, although fascinating at first, becomes frustrating as heck after a time--or simply taken as reality. I honestly can say that back in the day, I never anticipated a world without silver halide or acetic acid or fixer. I never even guessed at the wondrous magic of images just being there immediately after they are exposed. Wow! What a great creative tool.
I display this monument to a man for whom the lake was named, Herb Parsons whose hometown is nearby; Herb Parsons hailed from a still-great American era when trick shooters were among our best heroes--when guns were regarded as good things and no one ever considered to use them to go shoot kids in schools. It never crossed our minds. Herb was just as famous for his relevant one-liners including, If you hunt with your boy, you'll never have to hunt for him. Guys with guns were generally regarded as the good guys, not outlaws to be feared and reviled. Evidence that times change. There are still more people in this state who believe Herb's adage than there are photographers who still use film. But in either case, things have changed.
It probably took me thirty years to expose somewhere around three-hundred thousand frames of silver halide, usually in increments of twelve images on film. During the next fifteen years--the last fifteen years, increasing access to digital cameras has greatly accelerated the numbers of pictures I have taken--likely at least doubling the total. And while those pictures have been more out of sheer expressive need with zero emphasis on commercial application as the images have been made, they may now have far greater marketability if and when I choose to market them properly. If these images languish forever on various quickly-expired generations of outdated storage devices--it will be okay. They have served at least my own initial purpose. Sometimes on an optimistic day, I consider that they may offer an expectant time-capsule to be uncovered by deserving posterity turned in curiosity to generations past--or on an optimistic and romantic day perhaps even a a fantasy of finding a pot of gold just in the nick to forestall and hold at bay an evil baron . But prolly not.
And lighting. The rules and the physics of what makes it all work. The inverse square law of light explaining the reverse exponential fall-off of light with distance is still a useful tool. Understanding the effect of a slow shutter or fast shutter or a small or large aperture or a the color temperature of a given or mixed light source or a CMYK color gamut versus a RGB color gamut is still useful to me as a photographer. It probably helps me get there, to the desired end result, a little faster--but given the amount of time required to learn it all--I am not even sure of that. Give an artist an inexpensive automatic digital point and shoot camera that zooms and adjusts, and he will spend his time honing his or her eye for capturing what strikes hers or his fancy and and by trial and error great images will be captured. To Hecter with bokeh and all that other over-analytical bs.
I took these pictures this week on one or two short outings. These are scenics for lack of a better descriptive term. But were I to be among people of animals or motorcycles or wars or families--there would be some counterpart called human interest or news or portraits or celebrity or struggling songwriter or what-not to try to describe the resulting encounter of camera-eye with surroundings. It has been a serious winter for where I live, and the pleasant reprieve of an afternoon took me to this nearby lake. Lake Herb Parsons is a small and very shallow lake good for most lake stocked fish accept bass. It has a few but it is not deep and clear enough to be great for bass. Even so it is scenic, and I took my old dog with the intention of getting my blood sugar down from the stratosphere near which it has been orbiting of late. Insulin resistance. I cannot inject enough insulin to make a dent. My liver is shot from a genetic crap phenotype. I had planned to walk around the lake. I didn't make it far.
But I did walk a bit and I took about one-hundred fifty photographs--most of them better than average and about ten percent extraordinary. They were all taken by feel. I used a dinky little point and shoot. It was all mostly wham-bam-thank-you-sam. There was no analytical or conscious thoughts of now ya gotta compose this way or that way--although I do acknowledge that every tool easily called upon at an unthinking or not much mental effort level was brought to bear. But my point is that if it felt good I did it--pushed the shutter.
Again, in keeping with the theme of those post I have mae previously,my point is that am complelled to push the shutter release while listening to a feeling that is by now very familiar. When it pangs, I shoot. What makes a pang? I dunno, but I know it when I see/feel it: elements of strong design or texture or subtle pastels or flamboyance or stark contrast or wispy high-key lightness or some undefinable thingy that speaks to me and says click--from a whisper to a scream.