by julie posted April 27, 2012

Apart from those of people who I ‘know’ (in an online sense, who I would interact with), I don’t spend much time browsing photography blogs. Well, not for the photos anyway. What I do love is reading people’s thoughts on the process of photography – not what happens when you press the button but what happens in your head.

Ground Glass is a wedding photography blog about that stuff, but to be honest you could take the weddings out of it and it’d still be a damn good read for anyone taking photos of anything, I think. And here’s a snippet from one of those posts that just nails it:

“There’s a certain “itness” to photography, which is to say that great pictures show not so much a thing or a thing happening as the nature of that thing or thing happening.”

(Read the rest here, I’ll wait…)

I got into a bit of trouble on twitter the other night when I expressed some disappointment – okay, I sulked – after Darren posted this. We’d been bluebell hunting at the weekend and although I wasn’t presented with the sea of purple I’d been hoping for in Curabinny woods, I certainly had lots of fun getting in about the bluebells we did find with the macro lens. I was inappropriately attired:

Blue suede not ideal for crawling about in a forest – but I got down there, and I got mucky, and I was happy. But when I got home and emptied the photos out onto the laptop, I was deflated. The pictures I thought I’d taken weren’t in there. I make a pretty conscious effort not to be arrogant so it’s slightly at odds with my high expectations but I really thought with such a lovely subject and some cracking light, I’d have it down.

So what happened?

I went there like a hunter going to shoot a tiger. I wanted to get particular shots ‘in the bag’. I went with a preconcieved notion of what the pictures should look like, and didn’t just let the subject talk to me. I didn’t pay attention to the ‘itness’ of the subject when it was right there in front of me, so what I expected in the pictures was something else, and I got stuck with something else.

That’s not to say they were awful pictures, with a bit of space I can see something I like in them now.

I think this is definitely one of the ones that I got soggy trying to take…

I was actually kind of distracted by the lovely fresh unfurling green ferns that were waking up all around. It was the perfect light for those, I thought.

What can I say, lesson learned. Even if I don’t think of it consciously next time I’m shooting, I hope I’ve internalised the concept enough for it to affect my process.

It’s all getting a bit philosophical round here today, isn’t it?!

One Response to itness

  1. I had exactly the same problem with the bluebells in Currabinny. I went with a preconceived vision of the shot I wanted (low, close, wide angle, large DoF, sunlit). That in itself can be a good thing but, like you, I didn’t adapt when the shot wasn’t working. Instead I forced it, kept trying and eventually started to walk away dejected. But I turned around and tried the shot which was calling to me (further back, telephoto and wide open):

    I think I might try again this weekend. In the meantime, I have some preconceived ideas about photos in Inchedoney today so this is a good reminder to let those go if it’s not working

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