The other day one of my photography friends posted about her frustration with photography and how she felt uninspired. A deluge of comments followed from photographers who all knew exactly how she felt. One thing for sure Anne has no reason to doubt her work; here's a link to her website Anne M. Erdogan Photographe so you can see for yourselves, some superb images. Of course she isn't alone. I think part of the problem lays with the internet, specifically social media. The photos presented need to make an big impact to be noticed and that impression is only ever fleeting, ethereal perhaps. So, photographers in general (not Anne) are constantly looking for a 'Glory Shot" and very quickly need another, when these don't happen a kind of photographic melancholy sets in, confidence evaporates. My own solution is to keep on shooting, the "Glory Shots" are extremely rare so pay them no heed, take photos just for yourself, above all PRACTICE.
Yesterday I needed to visit the BMW Mottorad Dealer near Bristol because of a safety recall letter I received, something about replacing bushes in the forks...none of these R1200GSA's have never been near a bush, off road? No way., it'll get dirty!! The short story is that the job needed doing, but they don't have the parts available. I couldn't care less about maintenance nor do I really understand it, I believe the bike is safe to ride and that's fine. I took off for Bristol City itself. On my way there I was thinking about Street Photography; graphic, portrait, those shots of another persons art with some walking past it, curves, lines, reflections, cyclists, bloody zebra crossings, people on benches and therefore you'll see in the following photos that I try them all, but none really work. I promise I'll get to my point soon! Here's the first batch in colour...who knew -
So, we have a guy proudly collecting his new bike, a woman in red on a zebra crossing, some colour thing with a Dominos sign, curves, close up and bench with reflection. They are just photographs, nothing to get excited about. Here's some more, this time in Black & White using some other methods -
Whilst I remember a quick side note; Why I would never make a war photographer. As I walked down one of Bristols streets a cyclist got hit by a car taking a turn into a side road whilst not seeing the oncoming bike. He was going pretty quick it must be said, but the driver should have looked. I had my camera in hand and actually to my eye looking at an entirely different scene, however I was stood almost next to this turning car. I heard the cyclist shout "NO NO NO!", I turned to the car, more than enough time to snap him hitting the car and sprawled across the road bleeding, bruised, cut and in shock. It was all in my viewfinder, the moment of impact, I just needed to click and I couldn't. I didn't want to capture this piece of suffering, no war photography for me then, I'm not made of the right stuff.
Anyway, these photographs are ok, just about ok. No "Glory Shots", but more importantly no feeling, no story. I wasn't depressed, far from it in fact. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of shooting, sometimes I think I prefer that more than seeing the finished result. The process is wonderful, looking around you, opening your eyes, literally living in the moment, never knowing what's coming next. I'll finish with a shot from the weekend as an example of something that isn't a "glory shot", won't be of much interest to anyone apart from me. When I opened this up on my computer I almost shed a tear. I thought of how lucky he was, how I felt as a boy, carefree and loving life. It evoked some very strong emotions in me, I don't expect you to see it because it's personal, I was shooting for myself, no thought of how it might be received by others and finally I think that was the point I was trying to make to all who occasionally feel uninspired -
I'll leave you with something I read some while ago. It came from a John Free quote, not sure exactly where I saw this as I simply made a note on my iPhone, I really would like to credit it -
Free warns that as few as 1 picture out of a hundred turns out well.
Do the math: if we add his 99% failure rate to Cartier-Bresson's “your first 10,000 pictures are your worst,” and Ansel Adams's “12 significant pictures a year is good,” we could expect to make photos for eight years and more just to achieve competence! Perhaps that is why, after 47 years, John Free still practices.
As usual I would be delighted to read any comments and my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read my blog.
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with a Summicron 35mm lens fitted. The last photo was taken with a 50mm Noctilux.