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"Why Did You Take These Photos?"


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"Why Did You Take These Photos?"

17 Jun 2009 1:06PM   Views : 979 Unique : 654

Every now and then I take some photo albums with me when I visit my mother. She has no Internet access and it's the only way for her to see what I've been up to.

Before my last visit, I realised that it was a long time ago that I had shown her any photos - several years, in fact. So off I went, with a bag full of photo albums.

On previous occasions she had been quite complimentary. The only thing she didn't "get" was why one would want to seriously manipulate an image, like my Mont St. Michel image. But such images are no more than a small minority of my portfolio, so no problem there.

She really liked this and this , thought I took good dog portraits (such as this ), but grew rather quiet when she got to my Scottish landscapes.

She silently turned pages with " Loch Ard Jetty ", " Snowy Mountain ", etc. When I enquired if she didn't like those photos, she said: "Well, they're certainly impressive...", stressing the word "impressive" quite strongly, and then continued "... but they're not pleasing." When asked what she did like, she pointed back towards the pages of sunny landscape shots with white fluffy clouds. So a definite preference for postcard and chocolate box pictures.

And then she got to my tulips series - like my tulips-against-backlit-and-patterned-backgrounds images and tulips-on-a-white-backlit-background series. She flipped through the pages with these photos. Then she was silent for a while. And after that she asked: "Why did you take these photos?"

People who know me, will tell you that I'm hardly ever at a loss for words. But this question took me totally by surprise. For a few moments I didn't know what to say...

Tags: Photos Backlit Why Take Still life Tulips Albums Mother


fauxtography 15 6.6k 36
17 Jun 2009 1:55PM
Photography magazines and websites create a sense that the dark, moody and brooding landscapes are the ones to take. For photographers, this is often the case, however, a look at photography in non photography magazines will show you what is more palatable to the general public.

As to why you would want to take them, well how about: "I wanted to", "I like them","I was experimenting". Not every photo is a finished article, the experiments are sometimes better for the photographic soul than the final finished piece.

I see a lot of people on EPZ that post less experiments and want their PF to be completed finished pieces, which for what is ostensibly an audience of photo enthusiasts of all levels seems a little odd... but i digress Wink

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conrad 15 10.9k 116
17 Jun 2009 2:02PM
I did eventually arrive at the kind of answer you suggest, Mark. Smile I just hadn't expected the question.

And I'm quite aware by now of the need in the 'outside world' for nice, pretty pictures. Or even more ordinary ones than that. When the last remaining issues of FPME went on sale for only 1.50, I bought a whole stack, and I have to admit that I was surprised at first what kinds of images made money, which indicates what kinds of images are er ... appreciated by non-photographers, but I'm getting used to the idea now.

The idea that an EPZ portfolio should be a complete, finished piece, or should only show flawless images, is not something that appeals to me - I'd miss out on a lot of helpful suggestions if I only posted flawless images (besides, I'm not sure I'd dare call any of mine flawless).
Pete Plus
19 18.8k 97 England
17 Jun 2009 2:47PM
Interesting blog, as usual...it's a bit like when you go to the bank or post office..do you see a bank or a very impressive building with small details in the stone carvings? (obviously only applies to offices in older buildings)
When you're on a journey are you looking at where you're going or what you are passing? As photographers we open our eyes to things that others miss in our day to day travels. Capture these on film or CCD and you share what you see...which, as you've experienced is often not what non-photographers see. I was lucky with my mother, she was an artist. What she saw she painted. And, as such, she appreciated what I was photographing.
conrad 15 10.9k 116
17 Jun 2009 2:53PM
Ah, yes, a painter. Jacqueline paints as well. It helps.

And it's true, we see things that others tend to overlook. But I had hoped that by photographing things that others overlook, or that others don't appreciate that much by themselves, we could develop an appreciation of those things in others.

And maybe we can, but it just doesn't work with my mother, LOL...
KathyW 16 1.8k 12 Norfolk Island
17 Jun 2009 9:10PM
I guess we all look for different things in photographs... If the photos had been of landscapes your mother recognised she would probably have appreciated them more.
There is nothing at all wrong with "chocolate box" images - the fact that they are so often on postcards and chocolate boxes is significant. The majority of people (and tourist agencies) want blue skies and pretty flowers, they don't want to see murderous skies and deserted beaches.
I'm lucky in that most of my friends & family appreciate the artistic side of photography, and while they are most impressed by the straight shots of their dogs/horses/kids/etc, some of them are noticing the local landscape and sky from a different point of view and saying things like "you really must go to such and such a place because there's this lovely old tree, and if there was a sunset behind it..."
conrad 15 10.9k 116
18 Jun 2009 9:46AM
Well, I don't think there's anything wrong with pretty pictures either - I take plenty that fall into that category - but I do so like the impressive kind as well. "Murderous skies" - good description, I like that!

You're indeed lucky if your family and friends react that way. Actually, my children tend to do that now as well - if there's an interesting sky or special light, they'll now draw my attention to it. Looks promising.

And of course my wife already did that. Smile

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