Thursday’s child has far to go,

Thoughts about photographs

I’ve often wondered if it is better to be in a picture of to be taking the picture. I’ve seen pictures of people running over picturesque landscapes that have inspired me to go to those places and run. The thing is that the perspective you get from being in the picture is so totally different. Gone is the man and nature in harmony thing and it’s replaced with the aches and strains of running, The wondering what is going to happen next, the nagging doubt about going the right way. A photograph conveys an impression of what it is like to see something in action but what it doesn’t do is give a feeling of what it is like to be the subject of the photograph. Even knowing this I still get inspired by photographs and end up in the strangest of places thinking that it is nothing like the photograph.

There is a difference between doing an activity and taking a photograph of it and because of this I find it very difficult to take photographs of something that I’m doing. In my mind they are distinct activities which require different mind sets. I admire people who can do both, I just don’t think that way. I also feel that the moment I whip out a camera that I am holding back everyone who is engaged in whatever we are doing. This feeling is a little more nuanced though. For example taking a team picture before or after a run is totally acceptable but stopping in the middle of a swim or run to take pictures would be wrong.

I don’t belong to the selfie generation and find taking pictures of myself standing in places a little false. I belong to the film generation when an entire holiday could be captured in multiples of 24 or 36 shots and were you had to wait a long time before you could see the results. It made me consider what I was taking pictures of and to think about how to get the picture I wanted. I may not have succeeded most of the time but at least I was thinking about it. I’ve brought those values into the digital world, even though I could take many pictures I choose to take one or two. I don’t fill up memory cards that quickly.

I don’t like taking pictures of people; it makes me distinctly uncomfortable when I do. I think it’s because of the fuss when you point a camera at someone. Suddenly they don’t want their photo taken or they want to strike a pose. This removes the very reason I wanted to take the photo in the first place. I prefer to take pictures of objects, things that won’t move or complain. I like to take pictures of abstract shapes, patterns and angles. Buildings for me are endlessly photogenic. Warning signs fascinate me. Badly pointed walls are a treasure of photographic experiences.

I’ve never been able to produce a landscape picture that I’ve been proud of. I just don’t have what it takes to translate a panorama into a photograph. It took me a long time to realise this and even now I forget and end up attempting to capture distant mountains or wide open fields. These attempts usually result in a nondescript picture of nothing in particular. What I like to do is to get close and concentrate on the details. I find these pictures much more interesting to take and to look at. That’s why my photos contain so many close ups

I’ve recently started using a tripod. I’ve had one for years but it’s only now that I’ve started using it to take “studio” style photographs. These are pictures of arranged objects, the photographic equivalent of a still life. I started doing this so that I could play with the settings on the camera and see what they do. I found that I enjoyed the whole process of setting the picture up and the end results. I also learnt a little more about controlling the camera. I intend to do more of this.