One of the greatest traps in photography I find is defined by current trends. In some cases, this can be very useful, for example in team building, or sports, but when it follows the herd it can be very difficult.
For example – a few years ago, when I was a member of a camera club in the Manchester area – there was a swathe of photographs hit the circuit – they were basically what I called ‘big head’ shots. It was usually a photo of a person, in say a victorian costume, maybe wearing a top hat – he would dominate the image, in the foreground, and in the background would cleverly be put, say a steam engine, or a scene from the Black Country Museum. This was original, and creative, but then everyone started doing it – and after a while it became – oh just another ‘big head’ shot – lets move on…….
Since my attitute to photography has changed (and really that is in the last 18 months), so has my work. Art making is not quite the same as photography as a hobby. A hobby is, by definition a diversion, a pass-time. Art making is more of a struggle and a passion. Rewards do come, but usually at a price. I am finding my photography now even more of an addiction than I did before, as I search to change and improve my photographic style without the restrictions imposed on me by photographic clubs and competitions.
Not that I’d never enter competitions again – I will – I enjoy the challenge, and the ability to see other people’s work. In fact, this is one of the reasons that I love to judge at camera clubs around the county. I see what others are doing – I see the trends, and the ideas flow – well they do sometimes………
Even my relationship with my camera has changed. From the Canon 1DX, and a full range of red band, beige, lens – I have moved almost entirely to the Fuji System. I no longer think about ‘gear’ as the be all and end all of photography (although I admit better gear does help – but it’s not the camera that takes the picture, it’s the photographer)…. The camera is a tool – the oven doesn’t make good cakes, as the camera doesn’t take great pictures.
I’m watching the rush – the rush to take the next picture, then get it online for the ‘thumbs up’, ‘thumbs down’ vote from the Facebook clans, who are constantly chasing after the latest ‘trend’.
When was the last time you spent time on your own, with a camera? I’ve concluded that I don’t do quite as well when I’m out with friends. I am interested then in what they are doing, the conversation and the pleasure of being with them. I’m more interested in this, than in making a meaningful photograph. So, I need to slow down even more and aim for a more creative frame of mind, and maybe spend a bit more time on my own.