IN FOCUS

IN FOCUS

Photography World Cover for IN FOCUS article @ https://photographyworld.org/in-focus/

The World of Photography- Making Images 

Article by Mina Thevenin

Cover photo credit Anjan Ghosh

Circa 1950’s. Life magazine photo essayist, W. Eugene Smith was once interviewed about his photography and staging images. He believed staging was okay if it was within keeping of the place and situation. And he left it up to the photographer as to understanding the authenticity of the moment, to then best capture the moment. (1)

We are IN FOCUS looking  at the medium- photography.

Though this is the vehicle used, well, this IS the Photography World website, I think when it comes to art, the choice medium is an extension of the artist. The camera for the photographer. The pen or keyboard for the writer. Poet, too. Music for dance and the beating heart. And on and on the many ways we celebrate capturing the moment. Even in grief we mourn and honor such life experiences through photography.

I consider my own photography. What drives me towards certain images? Why do I pause and see that moment framed in my mind’s eye or feel compelled to go into the field anyway, even when I don’t know what’s in frame on that given day. Or maybe I do know. Maybe I’ve scouted it out many times so that I am ready and I know where the sun is going to rise and I’ve taken the planning photos to map out a better perspective and I have the patience of Job so I can wait and wait and be ready when the moment arises. Or as photographer on the fly- see, it might be better to help the image along in some way, maybe move something so the lighting is just right. To quote our great photo essayist, Eugene Smith, I Didn't Write the Rules

So what’s the difference between taking pictures and making pictures? Do you think this nuance exists within the photographer him or herself? Or am I just using semantics to glamorize a simple click of the button.  Can it be that there is an inherent difference as far as what lies within the photographer as-  artist, as photojournalist, documentary photographer, as commercial photographer? Wedding photographer? Though each may produce an equally phenomenal image…

When I look at photographs as a whole, whether they are mine or others’, I can certainly appreciate the technical skills involved with a very good quality photograph. Even given certain published  photographs- whether from history’s pioneers and leaders to the gurus of today, there are no doubt clear and defining attributes that set those iconic images well above the bar. Bar none.

A fall 2001 Nieman Reports article by Michael Persson and photographer Antonin Kratochvil, talks about the fundamental differences between the photojournalists and documentary photographers of today, citing that the quality of photography has depreciated because of the high demands for rapid turnaround time. The real-time media world desires quick pics and Persson and Kratochvil believe that photojournalism has suffered because of the need for speed. Photographs as depicted through documentary photography better shows the gradations of life, “they reveal life. Life isn’t a moment. It isn’t a single situation, since one situation is followed by another and another. Which one is life?”(2)

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