Monday, September 17, 2007

Too Focused

"It is often those photos that we take for the hell of it, in between our 'serious' photos, that capture the kind of punctum that Roland Barthes celebrated." This sentence is part of the loose guidelines for Lens Culture's first photo contest (click here and here). Sorry, I don't qualify for that one. I don't take pictures "for the hell of it". Never did. To me the word "focus" has a very comprehensive meaning. I need a purpose before I touch a camera, before I feel the need and ability to arrange the world within a frame - ideally only one purpose at a time. Not sure whether this is a deficit or not, I just made the observation that my pictures tend to suck if the mental focus was not strong enough. That is not to say that intuition does not come into play when I am out shooting - quite on the contrary I hold that my picture taking is very intuitive. I just need a specific purpose as trigger and framework for that intuition.

What about you? Anyone out there with a similar handicap?

4 Comments:

Anonymous mrs. deane said...

Ah well, there's no such thing as capturing a fleeting 'in between' moment when working with a large (view) camera that requires such non-fleeting things like a tripod, measuring of light, checking focus, removing dark slides, maybe attaching flash light, screwing on filters, cocking shutter and firing the cable release - so no, this contest is not for such practices. But I wouldn't call it a handicap if you can't take photos for the hell of it.

September 18, 2007 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Stefan R. said...

""I need a purpose before I touch a camera, before I feel the need and ability to arrange the world within a frame - ideally only one purpose at a time. Not sure whether this is a deficit or not, I just made the observation that my pictures tend to suck if the mental focus was not strong enough. That is not to say that intuition does not come into play when I am out shooting - quite on the contrary I hold that my picture taking is very intuitive. I just need a specific purpose as trigger and framework for that intuition.""

well said Dagmar, nothing to add ;)

September 24, 2007 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger dagmar schwelle said...

A quote from Jörg Colberg's recent conversation with Stephen Shore:

"Digital is the opposite of 8x10. I see digital as a two-sided phenomenon. The fact that pictures are free can lead to greater spontaneity. As I watch people photograph (with film), I often see a hesitation, an inhibition, in their process. I don't see this as much with digital. There seems to be a greater freedom and lack of restraint. This is analogous to how word processing affects writing: one can put thoughts down in writing, even tangential thoughts, with a minimum of inner censorship, knowing that the piece can be edited later. The other side of this lack of restraint is greater indiscriminancy. Here's a tautology: as one considers one's pictures less, one produces fewer truly considered pictures."

Although with a certain degree of stubbornness you can resist the impact of technology! When I was still working as a journalist I would not type a single letter before I had a draft of the entire article in my head. And that was not back in the day of the typewriter. The blogging era did not really increase my speed as you can tell from the infrequence of my posting...

September 25, 2007 at 2:48 AM  
Anonymous krc1000 said...

But doesn't the phrase on taking a picture "just for the hell of it" indicate that you don't care about the effect and you just want to make this shutter go "click"? That's what digital compact is more or less all about. Taking pictures, not creating images.

October 1, 2007 at 4:11 PM  

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