Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Receiving the Image and Making the Photograph...

   I've spoken at great length about the semantic implications of words associated with the photographic process.  This is important because words indicate one's thoughts and thoughts shape our world view.

   In traditional terminology,  photographs are "taken", a scene "captured" but for the contemplative photographer images are received.  It is indicative of two totally different mindsets.  In the former, the need to control and dominate the subject is paramount; in the later, it is a symbiotic relationship, an enterprise of equals.

   After the contemplative photographer has received the images, when that image comes to rest on the film or memory card, what then?  Now it becomes the artist's role to stare into the image and coax out of it a true reflection of the experience.  Some people may try to argue that we should not alter the image in any way but I disagree with that tact.  The "alteration" is the artist speaking through the image.  It is an essential part of the creative expression.  One would never tell a painter that they should paint in only one, realistic, way.  The painting is an interpretation of the landscape.  It is an expression of the heart of the artist.   By engaging in this gentle alteration, we make the photograph into a reflection of ourselves. It really is two separate processes - the receiving and the making.

Dun Carloway - Isle of Lewis, Scotland
All artists have a style that is unique to their work - their personal "signature" as it were.  While it may be more obvious in say, painting, photographers have a personal style as well.

One blurred image is a mistake.
Three blurred images are a series
and 100 blurred images is a style.

   I don't recall where I read that but it is so true.  My own style, at least in my monochrome work, is the dark rich tones I espouse.  Not for me the pale, high key image.  I want the dark velvet values of an old Master's painting.

   Go out and explore the world with your camera, receive your images and make of them what you will, what you need to do so that they will become your unique vision of the landscape.  Over time and with reflection your style will emerge.  It will float gently to the surface.  It is already there just waiting to be released.


kimmanleyort said...

I like how you separated the receiving from the making. Would you say Miksang is mostly receiving with minimal making?

Patricia Turner said...

Yes Kim, I think that I would categorize Miksang as pure perception...much less "making" the image into a reflection of your feelings of the subject. Also, I believe Miksang sort of ends the process with the perception. For me, contemplative photography is also about sitting with the image long after it is made and to continue to mine its is a continuing dialogue with the landscape that doesn't end when you walk away from it.