Many of you will know that I’m not interested in capturing a technically perfect image in my personal work. For any clients, I can guarantee that my commercial work is driven by the quest for technical perfection.
In recent years, photography seems to be constantly driven by technology. Photographers seek perfect sharpness, the perfect pixel over any aesthetic value. I once witnessed a fellow photographer delete dozens of family photos – because they were not 100% sharp throughout the frame! No value was placed on the moment in time he had captured. No importance was given to this precious memory. Camera manufacturers have led us down this path and continue to do so. And indeed, many of us follow blindly.
In my personal work, I’ve always been more concerned with the story within a photo – the soul within the picture.
This year, almost without realising it, a personal style has evolved. The look is vintage with muted colours complete with selective blur and imperfections.
Let’s look at the image below. An Irish landscape on a foggy morning. The usual photographic rules would say that in order to capture this correctly, you should use a tripod, select an appropriate aperture that gives maximum sharpness from front to back and in post processing, edit to ensure the eye is drawn to the central bright spot and isn’t allowed to wander off towards any other part of the frame.
The reality is, I shot this photo handheld using an 85mm prime lens at an aperture of F1.4 and a shutter speed of 1/2500 of a second. The ISO was 100 and the focus point was on the tuft of grass in the centre of the lane. The reason for these settings – I didn’t see why the walls in the foreground needed to be sharp. My concern was to capture the mood of the scene, the diffused light down this country laneway and the trees silhouetted by the foggy ether. Why should the entire scene be absolutely sharp? What have we to gain by having the walls and every part of the image pin sharp?
It is the imperfections in the world that make everything unique and these imperfections interest me.
Could this style be translated to a portrait shot? During the year, I re-discovered a photoshoot that I made back in 2012. At the time, I knew there was something I liked about these pictures, but it would be 2016 before I knew what that “something” was.
The look is vintage. The poses are not classical poses and parts of the body are transformed. My intention is to show the beauty and the soul that lies within each and every one of us. That beauty and soul which I think is not always present in the industry standard poses or the technical perfection that is evident in so much media today. And yes, some of these images are for sale on my website. 🙂
By now, a colour scheme was revealing itself. The blue/yellow combination gives an olde world look and adds consistency to the theme. It’s easy on the eye/mind and lends a relaxed feel that may balance any slight disturbance about any of the pictures. Again, this colour scheme evolved and was not pre-meditated, consciously.
Sometimes, the blur and distortion may seem extreme but I do like to leave a little of the image relatively sharp. Hence the hands in the following shot. In this case, the hands point to the creativity of the sitter. Breda is a singer.
Moonbright features Mary, a fellow photographer that I shot in the woods. Again, the distorted limbs question societies perception of beauty and normality. The technical imperfections may point to the many “supposed” imperfections we have as humans.
As this style is only evolving, I admit I don’t have all the answers about it yet – maybe I never will. And that’s why I am enjoying it so much. Its mystery is driving me forward and revealing different elements along the way.
Despite the mixed response I’ve had to it, I feel it is a positive influence that encourages us to look within ourselves to discover the substance there.
In the year ahead, I have resolved to produce one personal project every month. It will be interesting to see where this style will end up in 12 months time or if it even continues to evolve. I hope it does.
Of course, all of this could be arty farty nonsense and mumbo-jumbo. I’d be interested to know if any of you had a personal style evolve like this. Thanks for reading this far and have a great 2017.
Above is Cameron. The featured image at the top of the page is La Mamma Morta. Peace out.