The Roundup for February 17-23, 2018 Edition

Midnight sunrise by Christopher Parsons

I find it really hard to identify the stories in my photographs, prior to actually pushing the shutter button. When I look through, say, my best photos of 2017 I can see which ones have stories embedded within them but it’s a pretty rare thing that I saw, and decided upon, the story before taking the shot. In part, I think that my challenges are linked to only taking my photography more seriously for a relatively short period of time.

But some of the difficulties I’m encountering are also linked with my still learning to take ‘technically’ good photos, after which I think I’ll be more comfortable with more ‘narrative’ style shots. And I want to get better at the latter because I take Martino Pietropoli‘s statement pretty seriously: “Good photos tell stories. Average photos are just beautiful.”

Pietropoli’s article is excellent, insofar as he spends the time to walk through not just the importance of building a story into a photograph but because he also shows examples. In choosing examples he doesn’t merely say ‘here are narrative photos’ but, instead, he spends the time to spell out some of the narratives which might be bundled up in the shots in question. For me, his article was a particularly clear and poignant way of thinking through what stories might be in any given shot, and also as a way to differentiate between what he identifies as narrative versus ‘merely’ beautiful shots.

If I have one critique of the article — and I think it’s pretty minor — it’s that there’s an assumption that someone understands how to take photographs competently, and using this basic competence they can take shots with story. Put another way: I think that a lot of the efforts to create popular stylistic shots are very helpful in teaching people how to use their cameras and lenses, and to think through the importance of framing. Does that mean the people may end up with a series of ‘generic’ skills that many other photographers can roughly approximate or precisely imitate? Absolutely. But just as it’s important to learn how to write the five paragraph essay before breaking into longer-form writing that breaks all the rules of that high school essay format, learning the high-school format in the first place is an important skill that leads to more advanced writing.

I think that spending time looking at Instagram or Flickr or other places which hold ‘beautiful’ images is entirely appropriate for those who are learning to take photographs, and take them seriously. But I also tend to agree with Pietropoli that a photographer must eventually come to a decision: will their photographic style focus principally on technically beautiful shots or, instead, try to engage with the world by evoking emotions and reactions linked to the stories contained in their photos.


New Apps and Great App Updates from this Week

  • Cypher – a puzzle game about the history of cryptography

Great Photography Shots

I was really impressed with a range of the shots which won in the 2017 International Photographer of the Year contest.

Wave Crashers’ by Emily Kaszton. First Place, Nature: Aerial (Professional).
‘Neon Desert’ by Stefano Gardel. International Fine Art Photographer of the Year
‘Battersea’ by Giulio Zanni. Second place, Open Category: Long Exposure (Amateur)
‘Untitled’ by Pedro Diaz Molins. Second place, Fine Art: Photomanipulation (Amateur)
‘Lighting Clothes’ by Ramon Vaquero. Third place, People:Fashion/Beauty (Professional)
‘Desert Essential’ by Giovanni Canclini. First place, Open Category: Open Theme (Amateur)

Music I’m Digging

Neat Podcast Episodes

Good Reads for the Week

The Roundup for February 10-16, 2018 Edition

Decisions by Christopher Parsons

One of the most important things that we can do is surround our lives with things, events, and people which bring joy to our lives. I think that it really matters that when you get up that you’re immersed in whatever it is that excites you: it makes hard days easier, and easy days that must more enjoyable.

Part of the reason that I’m interested in photography is to capture, and bring home, such moments of joy. That doesn’t mean that all photos have to be about babies and weddings but, instead, that whatever is captured resonates with my soul in a way that moves me. It also means that I’m delighted to support other artists who generate art that brings a sense of joy to my life. That doesn’t mean spending thousands of dollars on pieces1 but, instead, being slow and careful and meticulous in amassing a collection of pieces that I fall in love with each time I see them.

But I was bad last year: I didn’t print enough of my own photos and while I was buying art I didn’t immediately have ways to display it that brought the works to life.

So over the past few weeks I’ve invested in new frames to bring those pieces to life. I’m super excited to see what they’re like up on my walls and, in the process of getting everything ready, I’m also that much more interested in acquiring some additional frames — both small and large — so that I can print and view more of the photos that I’ve taken over the past few years.2

I really love the experience of waking up and having everything on the walls bring a smile to my face (or a tear to my eye, in the case of some family photos): there is a sense of life that occurs when our domiciles are filled with our memories. I’m looking forward to putting more of them on my walls.


Inspiring Quotations

“What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

  • Jane Goodall

Great Photography Shots

I’m just blown away by some of the shots taken by Paul Hoi in New Zealand, where he used an infrared camera to transform the green landscapes into a gorgeous, if alien, pink-toned wonderland.

Music I’m Digging

Neat Podcast Episodes

Good Reads for the Week

Cool Things

  • I really this modern little me’s ‘January By The Numbers’, and have actually started implementing it for professional activities.

Footnotes

  1. Yet…
  2. I’m now spending way too much time researching different kinds of paper and what is best for which images.
Aside

2018.2.10

A bunch of frames are now inbound and will be delivered mid-week. I’m looking forward to putting the art I’ve collected in the past few months up on the walls!

Aside

2018.2.4

Saw Tao: Drum Heart this evening; it was an absolutely amazing show. Hope they don’t wait another eight years before returning to Toronto!