Not My Normal Pictures . . .

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” ~ Elliot Erwitt.


Last weekend, I was fortunate to travel to central Minnesota and spend an afternoon with a friend and a professional/freelance photographer Brian Anthony (click to learn about him) to work on our photography skills. I was there to learn new things and stretch my skills … try something new. Believe it or not, sometimes I get bored taking pictures. Don’t get me wrong, photography is one of my greatest loves … it is just sometimes I can not get excited about taking another picture of a squirrel. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Talking about photography is fun for me and that is how our day started. Have you ever tried to explain to someone you just met your philosophy of a hobby you love? If you have, you know it is not difficult .. the challenge is to stop talking about it. Looking at the art form in new ways was very interesting. Since our love for photography differs in slight ways, having this opportunity to see it through this professionals eye and my friends eye expanded my own camera eye … and put a spark back into my photography … it was a rewarding day.

After our cafe discussion, we spent the afternoon taking pictures in a little town called Dalton (not far from Fergus Falls). The Lake Region Pioneer Threshing Association has moved many original, historic buildings to a site where they used them to create a replica of a small town of the 40’s-50’s (info about the buildings on the site). The Skelly gas station (with a sign that read 17ยข a gallon) in my opinion, is a real prize. In the summer when this site is open for tourist, there will also be old cars there and tours of the buildings (they were closed when we were there). Taking pictures in this little historic town was a lot different from wandering around my woods … there were many interesting things and even if they were not, we found a way to make them interesting with our cameras. And,as I continued to work on things this week, I have learned so much more about what my camera can do, too.

Here is a slide show of some of the better pictures I took that day:

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“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” ~ Ansel Adams

My analysis of my own photography philosophy and photography practices lasted way beyond my afternoon of picture-taking. I used the word “purist” when we first started discussing at the cafe that day. Not sure where that word came from at that moment, but it is an accurate description of my past work. When it came to the section of the day to pose and photograph our male model, that is when I truly knew … staging a photo is not my thing. I found it extremely interesting to learn some of the professional tricks to get a good pose and especially an interesting facial expression from our subject … and I will probably use those ideas in the future. However, posing someone one was rather uncomfortable for me. I am sure the tips will come in handy as I teach my students next year, but photographing people is not going to be in my future anytime soon.

To be honest, I knew before we started that staging a scene (or a person) to take a picture of, is not my thing. I am aware that many nature photographers also stage their pictures, but I don’t do that either. Carrying around the perfect pine cone or red leaf to strategically paint a photograph feels like cheating to me some how. Is it cheating? … not really, most would call it “artistry” and the pictures they take are usually excellent and beautiful. Can I do it, do I know how? Yes, it is just not for me.

Nature, in all its natural forms, is what I prefer. Am I tempted to move an object or add another to a picture to make it better (more colorful, symmetric, interesting)? … sometimes (but I usually restrain myself ;-)). It is the hunt to find something unique or beautiful that I enjoy most. Hunting through this 1940’s pioneer town (instead of the woods) to find unique photographs just waiting to be taken was great fun and a challenging change from the woods for me. In the past, I have purposefully avoided anything man-made showing up in my pictures (just look through my archives here or at my Photo Blog – if you have a lot of free time ;-)) … but, that may change in the future as I am looking for new “hunting grounds” and some man-made things have a unique beauty, too.

That’s it! The best way for me to describe what I love about this hobby of mine. Photography, to me, is a great treasure hunt … looking at things at different angles, with different eyes and circumstances to find that special photographic capture … the hunt is as much the reward as the picture I take. I tend to be proud of my special camera-hunting finds … much like a shopper who enjoys showing off their sale finds ;-).

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy posing and designing your photographs before you take them or are you a treasure hunter like me? Neither one better than the other … they are just different. I have a feeling I am the odd one …

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~ by bearyweather on May 30, 2013.

11 Responses to “Not My Normal Pictures . . .”

  1. A treasure hunt…yes, a great description! And yes, nature provides so many gems to photograph.

  2. No. I just take what I find. I have been moving into taking certain images and painting with them. I call those art, photographic art pieces. That’s a bit more freeing, too for me. It’s also a LOT cheaper than paints and brushes and artistic media with which I am not so friendly.

  3. Photography is an art- my interest is in capturing natural beauty through a lens. Patterns of light and shade, quality of light, it all adds up to a hard-to-describe experience that one strives to capture!

    • I agree. Light, shade and patterns catch my eye … and I can take many pictures of the same thing and those characteristics can totally change the whole feel and look of the picture.

  4. First, I enjoyed looking at your photos, bearyweather. And reading your discussion about the different ways to look at photography. It’s funny. I sometimes think I can’t photograph another nature scene. And, yet, when the scene is calling it becomes impossible to turn away. I like that you’re a treasure hunter.

  5. Our philosophy regarding photography seems to be similar. I love the way you labeled it a treasure hunt. That’s exactly how it feels to me, and may be why I find it so exciting. I never know what I might find. Photographing people is not my thing either. I’m just not good at staging things, and it’s worse if I’m staging people. I recently came across an old blog post of mine where I stated that I hope to some day find the perfect red maple leaf floating on the water. I know I could find one and throw it in the water, but I prefer found art. I’ve been photographing more man-made objects lately. This move to the Eastern Shore shook things up for me, widening my range.

    I love this slideshow, and the images are different in terms of subject, but I think they have your style. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Robin. Your leaf example is how I feel, too. Even though I know that people would never know whether or not I staged a shot … I know and for some reason it feels wrong to me. Using what is existing and creating a shot with my eye – my view of it … is what is exciting to me. I feel more like a photographic record keeper than an artistic photographer … if that makes sense. (although I look for natural art and artistic views – the treasure hunting part of it)

      I look forward to seeing more of your Eastern Shore Shake up … seems we are both widening our ranges this summer … and growing.

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