Less Posturing, More Shooting: A Rant.
This one’s a rant. Sorry. If you came here for plucky comic relief, move along.
I’m not gonna lie to you folks, the more time I spend online reading the interactions of some of the photographers out there, the more disappointed I get. Some of the arguing going on is enough to make Jesus drink gin from a cat bowl, and I’m not far behind.
Yesterday I read a thread that got downright vituperative about whether images shot with digital cameras were “photographs.” The week previously I read a thread about Joe McNally’s use of multiple strobes on an ad hoc photo shoot in the desert, and the amount of petty dissent I read in that column was staggering.
So I’m working on this theory and it goes thusly: Arrogance and receptivity are mutually exclusive. Receptivity is key to both creating great photographs and appreciating them. And so in the resulting absence of great photography or the ability to appreciate the images of others, we’re left with one thing only – technique and the endless opinions about it. Hence the in-fighting. You don’t find the humble there. You don’t find the artists with vision there.
That is the only explanation I can come up with for how a handful of people with considerably less talent, experience, and expertise can bone-pick about Joe McNally’s choices. Joe is no god, but he makes his choices as an artist and he creates gorgeous photographs – that alone ought to be enough to convert anyone to a posture of humility. And from that posture would flow learning, and better photographs, even if your choices of technique would be different. They should be different. You are you, and Joe is Joe. The technique you need to express your unique vision will be different from the technique of another – but it makes yours no better, his no less valid.
So, can I say something – photographer to photographer? Let it go. Spend less time posturing – this is not a contest. For the love of Ansel Adams, just get out there and shoot something you love. Is it art? Is it photography? Is it pure? Should you use a flash? Is film better than a digital sensor? These are all smokescreens and discussing them ad nauseum is nothing more than a counterfeit. Don’t mistake talking about photography for the act of capturing your vision. One makes you a photographer, the other makes you a talker. And if you must talk, precede it with good old-fashioned listening and some humility. Pretty please.
Thus endeth the rant. I’m going to dig out the cat bowl.