I don't have the foggiest idea why I shoot what I do. What about you?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by landrum_kelly, May 16, 2016.

  1. What I shoot obviously has no commercial value, nor is it particularly popular or valued very highly here on Photo.net. I wonder what it is that impels us to shoot what we shoot and then seemingly compels us to try to share it with others.
    HERE is an example of one of mine that leaves even me shaking my head. Yet, yet, I must have found something of interest there when I shot it, cropped it, resized it, and posted it. It's not the worst thing I have shot, but I think that it is a long way from being the best. Dare I confess that I rather like it, even though I cannot give any particular reason why I should?
    HERE is another that puzzles me. What on earth did I/do I think I see here?
    Nor am I alone in my puzzlement. Andy K of Photo.net once wrote me to say, "Lannie, I cannot begin to comprehend why you shoot what you do." Nor was that a rare or isolated reaction.
    HERE is some of Andy's own work, which I dearly love.
    Please post something of your own that you enjoyed shooting quite part from any particular rationale as to why you should have.
  2. Actually, I see that the link that I gave to Andy Kochanowski's site was actually to a link to site that he linked to from his site.
    HERE is the main link to his site.
  3. You do it because you love it!
  4. Yes, Tim, but what precisely is it that I love in specific shots? What about you? Do you ever find yourself shaking your own head at what you like to shoot?
    Love your work, by the way. . . .
  5. Its not about what you shoot, but what you decide not to delete.
  6. Not shooting is logically equivalent to deleting, I believe, Sanford. You're just deleting in the viewfinder.
    See The Shot Not Taken, by Fred G.
  7. To quote the title of one of Richard Feynmann's books "What do you care what other people think?"
    Great book, you should read it.

    Here is another even smaller book which ai have been reading lately (it's on my lap right now in fact): "The War of Art" by
    Steven Pressfield. I also highly recommend that.

    Lannie, maybe this quote from Garry Winogrand will help you: "I make photographs to see what things look like when
  8. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    There is a trigger -- a special light, beauty, a line, a curve, masses and shadow, incongruity, humor, etc.
    When you succeed the rationale is clear, when you fail, it can be a mystery.
  9. Lannie, maybe this quote from Garry Winogrand will help you: "I make photographs to see what things look like when photographed."​
    I like that, Ellis!
    I'll have to check on the books you mentioned.
  10. "What do you care what other people think?"​
    Communication with others, empathy for others, sharing with others are all very important to me. I care a whole lot what other people think. Because I'm human and want to be part of something bigger than just me. How I behave in light of what other people think is a different question, but that I care about other people's thoughts, I have no doubt.

    Which leads me to why I photograph what I photograph. To find common ground with others through an expressive act.

    Specifically, I shoot gay male contemporaries to give them and me a voice. I shoot people with emotional and physical disabilities to provide understanding, visibility, and a lot of fun for all of us. I shoot people to connect. I shoot the street, when I do, to help me understand it better and relate to it more personally. I shoot other stuff to see what I can find and whether I can look at it anew.

    I shoot to make pictures, "make" being the operative word, to make something.

    Rarely do I not have a pretty good idea of why I'm shooting what I'm shooting. And, Lannie, I think it's terrific that you don't. These differences are amazing to consider.

  11. I don't know either and quite honestly I don't care. I've said many times here before that I'm just having fun. Works for me. One young lady who looked through a a stack of my pictures many years ago said I was living vicariously through the people in the photographs. Maybe, maybe not. Like I said I don't care and I don't think anyone else does either.
  12. Lannie -- To address your photos first.
    The shot of the raindrops in the street, seen large, is pleasing to me. I like the tactile feel of the drops hitting the street, and maybe it also brings up the memory of that scent that arises when a summer rain first hits dry pavement. It's an interesting view in that it really forces the viewer to focus on the drops themselves. Not a rain-paved street from a distance, but the drops themselves up close. I don't know if that's what you had in mind but I can see wanting to capture that. The shot of the tangled tree. To me, the tree is different from any that I am familiar with, and the odd tangles and contortions of the branches make it interesting. Both the rain drops and the tree have a level of visual interest which is, in most cases, what a photograph is all about.
    I have a somewhat more than foggy idea of why I photograph what I photograph, but what compels me to do it in the first place is a different story. It's certainly not for money or fame. To say something about the world? To capture some moments from the world? To attempt to show subtle odd moments from mundane daily scenes? I'm not entirely sure.
    Interestingly, the link that you first provided, which leads to the Un-Posed website, is now bookmarked in my favorites to peruse more thoroughly in the near future. From what little I saw, it is just my cup of tea and I found that some of the photos I saw inspired me (I've felt in a bit of a rut lately) and made me want to get back out there (wherever "there" is).
    This is not exactly what you were talking about, but there are times when I capture a photo that I really like, but for the life of me cannot explain why I like it. (I come across the same problem sometimes when I see the work of another photographer that I really like, but cannot put into words why I like it.) The photo below is a good example of one of my photos that I really like, but I have no idea why. I do not like it because I took it (there are more photos of mine that I do not like, or are ambivalent toward, than there are ones that I really like). I would like it if it had been taken by someone else. I took it because I was in the street (technically, along North Beach in Chicago) and something about the moment caught my eye. But beyond that I have no idea why I took it, or why I am fond of it. In that sense, it echoes a little bit of what you wrote about some of your photos above.
  13. Not shooting is logically equivalent to deleting, I believe, Sanford
    I'd say not quite. Sometimes you might want to see how something is going to look after you play with it before deleting it. I'm kinda like Marc, I don't know, I'm kinda like a crow, something catches my eye and I take a pic. Though for a while I like to shoot flags and also for a while I often liked to include a palm tree in a pic in Southern Cal.
  14. Reflections of a red post and fire hydrant with rainsplash craters superimposed--what’s not to like? I’d love to see a crop of that part of the image....
    Why I photograph what I do? Because something catches my attention and I’m trying to figure out why, and then I’m trying to understand its attraction well enough to distill it into a concise image. I spent over an hour photographing the most overphotographed landmark in my town a few days ago, all to try to find out what it is I like about the thing. I ended up with one frame I liked out of a hundred taken, but I solved the puzzle. So for me, photography is a way of learning how to really see things. In the process, I end up with lot of why-on-earth-did-I-take-that shots, but it sure is a lot less painful now in digital.
  15. I've said it many times, the visual world literally reaches out and grabs me and says: "look at this" and if I have a camera with me I take a photograph.
  16. "Rationale" ???
    My rationale is whatever is not rationale. It's the not-known that seduces.
    ... the madness of light ...
    ... whatever is illuminated ...
    etc. etc. etc.
    Then there's the 'touched by death' thing intrinsic to photographs. Like you, I am old.
    [Ellis, Feynman thought philosophers/philosophy was ... stupid. Maybe that's why you recommended him to Lannie?]
  17. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    I have a friend who's an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say "look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree. Then he says "I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing," and I think that he's kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is ... I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts.
    I wouldn't trust Feynman further than I could throw him.
  18. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    I shoot because I like messing about with cameras. And camera bags and SD cards and computers. And…
  19. To Fred G:

    You wrote "Communication with others, empathy for others, sharing with others are all very important to me. I care a
    whole lot what other people think."

    Once I have created something I care very much what people think. But when ai am creating just for myself (as opposed
    to creating for others on commission or assignment) I don't give a fig about what other people might think about it and
    knowing your work a little I do not believe you do either. I think we both do the work we do, the real work, because we
    have no other choice if we want to feel the joy of something we can't express any other way. When other people see it
    and connect with it it strengthens our bonds to our community.
  20. I shoot to please myself. I shoot to please others when I shoot swim meets as the pictures are posted and
    printed to please the swimmers. When I had my photo business I did it to please my customers. When I did
    weddings I did it to please brides and their very close relatives and to please whoever was paying me. When I
    worked for a paper I did it to please my editor and those who read the paper. I did high school sports for the
    paper mostly to please the parents. When I shot for shows I did it to please the judges but I soon disabused
    myself of that. I have 170 pictures posted here on PN. I don't know whether that has been to please me or the
    few people here who look at them. Some of them are not very good but I am too lazy to take them down. Most of all I enjoy the human contact between me, the photographer, and the subjects. I think I am somwhat adept at evoking some kind of emotion that shows in the photograph. That gives me great satisfaction.
  21. I shoot (paint, draw and make sculptures) to communicate, what I fail to express in words.
    I keep photos which show more than what you see.
  22. I just want and enjoy taking photos of my family and the things we do and places we go. I like mechanical camera's a lot
    so it makes since to have a couple of them to use. Currently I am on a trip to see my son graduate from college and of
    course I wanted pictures. After I develop the film and make prints I will display the pictures on the piano and then into my
    photo album. We went hiking in Montana and I took a few river pics and I will process a couple of those also to document
    our trip. Anyway family photos is my interest.
  23. when I don't have the foggiest idea what to shoot, I look for fog ;)
  24. Almost all of my family are artists. I'm the black sheep, a critic. I am a professional analyst of art styles, that is.
    After a lifetime of using photography to document archaeological research and to document archaeological sites for use in teaching, my first goal is always to get some kind of record. After that, I worry about fine points and more "artistic" goals.
    I am actually quite happy with my photography. Others, not so much so. :)
  25. I don't have the foggiest idea why I shoot what I do. What about you?​
    I am not surprised. Reasoning is equivalent to translating our thoughts into words, and words can barely start to describe the aesthetics behind many visual art forms. If we could define all visual art in the form of words, there would be no need for the former. For example, there are many photographs (e.g. abstract works) that would be clubbed into the category whimsical or mystical, if asked to describe in words. However, such description barely skims the surface of the ocean that lies beneath.
    While seeing art, I look for a mental resonance, an inner feeling that immediately tells me that I like it. After that, whatever words or reasonings I use to justify that feeling doesn't matter that much. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes not. Many times I feel the futility of words while writing critic for a picture that I like. Sometimes when I get back to a critic that I wrote a while back, it looks so naive. If given the chance, I will write it in a different way. Even that may seem naive in future. In contrast, my feelings for the picture remains unchanged with time, which shows the irrelevance of words in such a case.
    The bottomline I think is, first ask yourself whether you like your work or not. It takes a while to distinguish real liking from projected liking (whether others will like it or not). I can categorize my works into ones that I genuinely like, and ones that I think will be popular. If you like a picture, that is in itself a justification that it is good. No need for literary reasons.
    Here is a picture I shot and I am still not completely sure why. One critic asked me why I shot this and I tried to justify myself in my reply to him. They are all valid reasons, but can they explain why I shot it, or what I was thinking at that particular moment? Not sure.
  26. I rather like the two shots that you linked to. Contrary to what a lot of left brain dominant people think (such as internet forum participants :), knowing what you have and why you have it is not necessarily a good thing. We are better off letting the intuitive side of our minds have a freer reign than we normally would when it comes to creativity.
    You can't figure it out anyway. Why do I like short women w/ brown hair? Who knows? I just do.
  27. Supriyo, I think there can be a lot of good reasons for trying to figure out one's motivations for making photos. That, IMO, is not the same as putting pictures into words or describing in words what is visual or aesthetic. It's different from trying to describe a picture or even why you like a picture. "Why do I do this" or "Why did I (or will I) take this picture" are questions that could, if one desires and one is able, increase self awareness. Usually nothing wrong with self awareness and it's often a very positive thing unless it gets extreme and becomes an unhealthy sort of self consciousness or certainly if one doesn't feel the need or desire to go there.
    I should add that addressing one's motivations for shooting different things or for shooting in the first place are different from trying to figure out why one likes something and not something else.
  28. Steve, like you, I think intuition is vital in creativity. But I also think the history of the most creative people shows that their intuition was very often combined with big and great ideas. A lot of thinking and talking and discussing has gone on throughout the history of photography and art.
    In short, I don't think "we" are better off one way or the other and I don't think it has to be a choice between intuition and thoughtfulness, because I think they can and often do work together. I think people will naturally approach it differently. I don't think there's a default better off here.
  29. Fred,
    I agree it is inspiring to think about what motivates us to take pictures, and looking back at these forums, a lot has been discussed on this subject. Many times, we can rationalize or express such motivations in words to some extent, but in cases where you can't (as Lannie stated in the OP), I would just stop trying to and accept it. Otherwise it can become an unhealthy obsession as you pointed out.
    I should add that addressing one's motivations for shooting different things or for shooting in the first place are different from trying to figure out why one likes something and not something else.​

    Thinking about it, this does make sense. War photographers like Capa shot compelling images, but did they really like the scenes that they shot? Same goes with many documentary photographers. But then again, liking may not be the term one can always associate with art.

    I realize now, I shouldn't have used the word 'like' in the first place. What I meant was, 'Why one thinks of a certain art work as substantial'. Yes, I agree that is different than asking 'What motivates one to shoot?' I myself can appreciate a wide variety of photographic works, but when it comes to shooting, I tend towards a narrower range of subjects. So I find your comment helpful, thanks.
  30. I have a sometimes maddening urge to record what I see in my life's wanderings. I am also a retired architect, and I think in grids. Everything I see is linear. When I look at a beautiful 1800s colonial building, I find I'm sketching it in my mind. So photographing it is only an extension of what I am thinking.
    As an occasional photographer for publication, I shoot what my publisher clients want me to, for the books they are producing. With architecture, this is easier than it sounds, because most of the old buildings I photographs are approached and shot according to set formulas. Compose the scene, set up, put the camera on a tripod, check all the settings, verify there is film in the bloody thing (or power in the batteries if I'm shooting with my D700), then shot shoot shoot - long shots, medium shots, close ups, detail shots. Lastly, a panoramic super long shot to show the palm trees or the ricefields or the kangaroos in the paddock.
    Other scenes evoke long cherished memories. Old barns remind me of my late grandfather's barn in Eastern canada in the 1970s. Limestone hills take me back to my university and young adult years in New Mexico. Australian bush scenes with that wonderful Antipodean light set a spark alight in my heart. I shoot the streets everywhee I go to evoke the busyness of city life. I photograph markets all over the world because I love food. Above all, I take photographs of people because I like people, and enjoy the conversations I often have with them after the photos have been taken (with their permission of course).
    I photograph family members and friends and our three beloved cats because I want lasting memories of all of them.
    There is nothing "arty" in my photography, although on occasion I have been accused of being an artist.
    I worked all this out in my mind and to my lasting satisfaction, many decades ago. The cameras I carry with me (and they come everywhere, every day) are an extension to my eye, my hand, and my mind.
    My life often feels like I'm on a wheel, forever revolving, always inevitably returning to the same position, time and again. My camera records the memories for me of the many interesting things I see along the way.
    Simple as anything, really. Nothing complex about it, nothing at all. Maybe.
  31. There is a cartilaginous filigree that permeates existence that is Things That Are and Will Be Remembered. There are also those things that Might Be Remembered. Then there is all the rest: Things That Nobody Will Remember. For example:
    Some photographers work entirely in or in pursuit of Things That Are and Will Be Remembered. Whether or not those things remain cartilaginous, or melt into air, the photographers who pursue them have a Reason, a Rationale for what they do. Ditto for those who, in a more activist role, pursue and hope to promote Things That Might Be Remembered into the fixity and chewiness of Are and Will Be.
    What about those of us who (aside from deeper projects) make pictures of Things That Nobody Will Remember? Where's the rationale? Lannie asks. I think it's for self enjoyment. I mean that, not in the usual flippant, throw-away sense, but in the sense of honoring, noticing, simply enjoying, discovering, the flavor and aliveness of your own tastes and pleasures and attentions. It's good to be alive.; surely worth noticing and honoring with your attention. The remembered is necessary, but it's not alive.
    Things That Might Be Remembered into the fixity and chewiness of Are and Will Be​
    Let me chew on that a bit, Julie.
    What about those of us who (aside from deeper projects) make pictures of Things That Nobody Will Remember? . . . I think it's for self enjoyment. . . honoring, noticing, simply enjoying, discovering, the flavor and aliveness of your own tastes and pleasures and attentions. It's good to be alive.; surely worth noticing and honoring with your attention. . . .​
    That's it. That's exactly it. It's what is in the eternal present, too ubiquitous to be memorable, too concrete to ignore.
  33. Here's another somewhat unfortunately perishable example.
  34. Keep those postcards coming, folks, PICTURE postcards. (No limit per customer)

    Be prepared to explain yourself!
  35. I shoot to make pictures, "make" being the operative word, to make something.​
    Thank you for that one, Fred. It is about creation, not just discovery: MAKING!
  36. I like the tactile feel of the drops hitting the strdeet, and maybe it also brings up the memory of that scent that arises when a summer rain first hits dry pavement. It's an interesting view in that it really forces the viewer to focus on the drops themselves. Not a rain-paved street from a distance, but the drops themselves up close. --Steve Gubin​
    Thank you, Steve. Yes, it was the raindrops that caught my eye as I sat waiting for the light to change, big drops hitting little pools in the nearly empty Autozone parking lot, if I recall correctly. I think that it might have been shot on the morning of Earth Day, 2011.
    I have to say of such pictures that, if they have any power, it is because they resonate with something very primal: who has not seen and relished the big drops plinking down after a drought or at the end of a hot day in July or August? We want to give expression to something when we shoot, and water is pretty darned important to us. So is most everything else that we see, and somehow we know this.
  37. Fred, to answer your response to me, I totally agree that we all have different "approaches" ranging from the instinctive or intuitive, to the very thoughtful. Jung believed there were four basic "types" of people: thinking, feeling, intuitive and sensate. There might be something to that. He also believed we were dominant in one of these but that the other modes could have influence as well, though not as strongly. I think I am more "sensate" when it comes to processing the visual world, and "thinking" when I am at work (I work with people). So for me like I said, the visual world just grabs me all the time, everyday, and shouts at me to notice something, which is what I will photograph if I have a camera. I'm not thinking about any particular theme or project, which is probably more common among photographers. My "thinking" mode is turned on at work, in health care where I am with patients. I feel balanced in this respect, that I can use photography to satisfy my sensate, right brain impulses, and my work to engage my "thinking" capacities. I feel lucky.
  38. Steve Murray, my remarks were directed to Steve Mareno. You tend generally to speak about your own experience, which
    I appreciate. Mareno was speaking to what WE are better off doing. I was reminding him that we don't all photograph the same
  39. I think my 'rationale' for photography can be summed up by this phrase :
    'Each a glimpse - and gone forever.'
    I want to record what I have seen.
  40. Sorry Fred. I only saw Steve Gubin's remark and assumed your comment was directed to me! I didn't see Steve Mareno's.
  41. And then there's the lying ...
    "... film your child as it blows out the candles on the cake. But there are never two images. Kodak tells you: film this image. It does not say: and then film the image where you hit your child in the face. Because from that moment onwards, one would have to show interest in one's family life." — Jean-Luc Godard
  42. My rationale is pretty simple: "it seemed like a good idea at the time."
  43. My rationale is pretty simple: "it seemed like a good idea at the time."​
    Keith, you have given me a title, if I should ever write my memoirs.
  44. Okay, I've got the two cents admission so I'll play. Actually it's a pretty good question and one that swims around in my head from time to time. I think for me it's all about perception and how we see. I'm very interested in that because I suspect that what we see or at least how we interpret what we see is programmed. I try to notice what I notice when I shoot, if that makes any sense, and what I find is that my perception changes from day to day, hour to hour and often minute to minute. I'll be wandering around in a fog and suddenly something shifts in me and there are pictures everywhere, the world has subtly changed. So really I don't think that pictures are not out there at all, at least the images that somehow make sense to me and get me excited; they result in a breakthrough - however temporary - in how I cognize the world. (I almost said "conjure up the world). If I ever taught a photo class I'd take my students to an empty parking lot and say don't come back until you've found a great picture. I suspect that intent plays a big role when it comes to picture taking and just about everything else, really. "Seek and ye shall find" is much more than an a biblical aphorism; it's the foundation of everything.
  45. I'll be wandering around in a fog and suddenly something shifts in me and there are pictures everywhere, the world has subtly changed.​
    I have noticed the same thing, Jack. For me, it is like the world comes alive, although in truth I am the one who has come alive. What on earth happens such that we lose that power from time to time? For me, that power to see photos is also associated with the power to appreciate the beauty in the world, which is not to say that all of my shots are about trying to capture beauty. Perhaps a better way to say it is that the world suddenly becomes more interesting. I literally cannot seem to help trying to photograph when I am seeing so clearly.
    Alas, none of this means that others appreciate my work better when I feel that I am seeing more "clearly" (for lack of a better word). They may, for all I know, be even more inclined to ask, "What on earth did you photograph that for?" or simply, "Why?!"
  46. I mostly shoot to make significant enough work that it has purpose in my community and to those who count on me to do that. A lot of the time photos fall easily into the vein of an ongoing project or type of narrative so I stay fluent in that particular dialect & having the photos I make have a purpose seems to often bring about the best work.
    Otherwise it would be idle snapping of eye candy and I think I would get rather bored of that in short order...
  47. I mostly shoot to make significant enough work that it has purpose in my community and to those who count on me to do that. . . .
    Otherwise it would be idle snapping of eye candy and I think I would get rather bored of that in short order...​
    That's interesting, Daniel, and points up one of the differences between being a pro and an amateur, I suppose. Although I have been shooting since my teens, I have always shot as an amateur. For the last fourteen years (since I got my first digital camera), I have shot overwhelmingly as a release from the pressures of work. I still shoot primarily on the run, working in a few shots here and there when I can during the day.
    So, except for a few shots that I make from a sense of familial obligation, I shoot almost completely as a recreational activity--in the real and original sense of "recreating" myself, renewing myself, getting some therapeutic benefit from shooting. I often feel bad (or at least "wired") when I start shooting, but often feel better when I get through--or when I am processing later. (I thus see no correlation between how I feel when I snap the picture and my own later assessment of the quality of the shot.)
    So, I guess pretty much everything I shoot is what you would call "eye candy"--or at least "for fun." It can be addictive, but it seems a pretty harmless and even therapeutic addiction in and of itself--apart from a tendency to buy too much equipment. I reserve unto myself the possibility of doing some event or portrait photography for money in the future, but so far I have not made that leap.
    I wonder how many people share your view of your work--it sounds more like work, and mine sounds more like plain old fun. I don't tend to get bored with it, since it is not my work, I suppose.
    The only exception to what I have said above would be during a period in my sixties in which I taught at a black college. While there I did some event shooting--and even informal portraiture--with some sense of obligation to the college community. I have also had some projects which I thought were worthy, but I doubt that many of those projects have had much enduring value in the eyes of others.
  48. That's interesting, Daniel, and points up one of the differences between being a pro and an amateur, I suppose.​
    That's probably not the distinction I would make, since I shoot more like Daniel but am not a pro. I shoot usually with purpose, at least half the time with at least somewhat of a social purpose in mind or in the back of my mind as part of my overall approach to my work, if not always with specific things in mind for each shot. I also have a lot of fun doing that. I consider it not really recreational for myself, but I don't consider it work either. But I can actually have fun even when I know there are serious overtones. I have great fun shooting at my nephew's lifesharing community for people with disabilities, but that's also a project of mine which I do take seriously and care about. Maybe fun is the wrong word, but I certainly enjoy the fact that I see my photographing as having purpose, even if within that I often let go, explore, experiment, allow for accidents, and allow myself to go beyond my thought-out purpose in hopes that I will advance it and not restrict that purpose only to what I already know or feel.

    For pure recreational fun, I go out to eat and play cards and watch a couple of stupid TV shows that I get hooked on.
  49. Fred, when I got my first digital camera back in early 2002, it occurred to me (based on where I lived that year) to try to capture vestiges of the Old South. My "purpose" was largely to document as many old houses and barns and other decaying things as I could, before they disappeared entirely.
    Over time, the structures which I photographed became less important to me than the backdrops--the sky, the clouds, abstract forms, the vagaries of light, etc. If there is an ordering principle--I wouldn't exactly call it it a purpose--in what I shoot now, it is less and less about the subject(s) alone and more and more about the larger context, including that natural "backdrop," in which the subjects appear.
    If there is yet something else that pulls me now, something that draws me out of my house (and sometimes into the photo), it is likely to be that natural backdrop--or the more general theme of what might be called "nature reclaiming its own"--in whatever setting I am moving through. I still take pictures of nature, but I do not always go out into nature to find nature. Unless I drive to the mountains or into the countryside to find what nature remains (which I often do), I am typically content now to show glimpses of nature mixed with the artificial world that society has constructed. I do not typically look for people in the vast majority of my shots. I do not typically have a social agenda per se. I just shoot what I see, especially if I can find something that interests me or pleases my esthetic sense. I shoot almost exclusively for myself, but I happy to share what I see. Most people are fairly indifferent to what I shoot, which doesn't bother me at all. If I get some occasional resonance from other photographers, that is great. I don't live for it. My photography, in spite of being a surprisingly large part of my life, is pretty much a solitary endeavor on the part of a very private individual. I am not out there shooting "solitude." I am a solitary individual simply shooting the world that he sees, whatever and wherever that might happen to be. If I lived in a real city, I would be out in the streets. Since I commute to other small towns, my shots are often those of a sometimes suburban, sometimes rural commuter. When I can, I get to the mountains. I avoid cities of any size.
    My real work is still political philosophy, and my writing projects often span decades. That is where my social concerns and obligations can be found or "seen"--as well as in the courses that I teach almost gratis as an adjunct professor of philosophy, politics, or languages, wherever I can find work that is fulfilling. I haven't taught full-time since 2011, when I chaired a department. I have had enough of academe and teach on the margins, mostly for fun, but with a sense of obligation to make my courses the best they can be. They are now mostly elementary courses, since the real plums go to the full-time faculty. That is fine. They are younger and deserve their turn. My writing agenda is my real work. Nothing that I do makes very much money. My photography does not make any--not yet, anyway.
    In a very real sense, most of my photography thus really is "just for fun" and thereby really is recreational, sometimes for relaxation, sometimes (at night) for a bit more excitement. Photography is thus secondary to my real work, and yet it helps build a sustainable and agreeable fabric to my life, a fabric which I find meaningful when conjoined with my real work. I often spend evenings processing, especially when I have had enough of reading or grading papers.
    Photography for me is as much an escape from as an escape to. It has about the same level of significance that singing, running, hiking, playing the guitar have played in my life, except that I do share it with whoever cares to look at it. Whatever gives psychological support to my writing is what I do. Sometimes that is photography. Sometimes it is something else. The writing is primary, but it is hard and can be alienative. Photography is one way that I get away from writing for awhile so that I can come back to it afresh. I yet still value photography in and of itself, but I don't think many other people are likely to do so.
  50. Interesting that you mention writing as being difficult, Lannie, as at this very minute (which is now part of the past) I am procrastinating from a five-part text I am preparing to go with my exhibition this summer. It comes to life much more slowly and with more pain than the photographs that will go with it. It has been and is a struggle. My dear common law wife says I have it all wrong. "Just describe the photos or series of photos rather than trying to complement them by writing something more poetic or philosophical and it will come more easily." She is probably right on, but I am a stubborn b.
    I really have enjoyed reading your recent comments along with those of Daniel, Fred, Jack (I might give my two photographic eyes for one of his) and Phil, to name but a few. I agree about the purpose part and communal connection desire in photography, even though I think leaving space and time for serendipity is also important and probably that is a luxury more available to amateur photographers.
    Professional photographers like Daniel have my admiration (and I am trying to recall the name of another motivated professional from Montreal who once gladly shared his expertise here and even sponsored four memberships each year to encourage others) as purpose is just one of many goals and attributes he must have to survive and excel in a tough professional sector. I only have to do that in my own profession of advanced minerals and materials technology in which I have the good luck of being required for only two or three full months per year; I thoroughly enjoy my interaction with many young scientists and engineers and older specialists who work for my client. Perhaps in a way that connection inspires me to seek photo projects and objectives to attain. On the other hand I am not that cartesian, and photograph often without much conscious intention - the brain's desire and emotions are not always predictable.
    Like Fred, I feed off contacts with others and sharing their objectives or goals. My fun time is often with them, relaxing in conversations that sometimes go somewhere in expanding our experience but always are agreeable and fulfilling, especially over a good dinner and good wine. We are really social creatures. Sometimes those we initially may feel little desire to know turn out to be great contacts or friends. In some ways I think photography somehow catalyzes that, as it encourages us to see and report or interpret the world about us.
    Julie, I don't think I would give passing marks to the English translator of Goddard, but what he is (apparently) saying about the two faces of family photographs is right. We should not just show beauty but keep in mind that the reality of a situation may be different and we should try to show things other than a Kodak ad might have suggested, and for the benefit of subject and viewers. Why and what we photograph should be a mirror of our approach and person. My two cents worth, probably burdened with some self-evident facts, even if these days they only add up to 1.5 US cents (Hey guys, visit Canada to photograph, a current bargain!).
  51. <p>I like the textures in the mystery pics, and they look like ones I could have taken. I thought it would be interesting if the pics could psychoanalyze themselves, so I have spent most of the last year working on a website to dynamically pick similar pictures in an interactive slideshow, to see if it all adds up to anything. It is based on keyword descriptions of each picture, plus image analysis. There are 8000 pics now, with 2 photographers. I've gotten carried away and am trying to make it artificially intelligent, so it is like you are analyzing the dreams of an AI built on your photos. I'm wondering if other people would want to put their photos into it in order to make a business of it.

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