Photography as an Idea
Photography or a photograph as an idea has been percolating in my mind over the last several weeks. It’s coming to be the basis of my photographic philosophy if you will. I don’t create images because what I see is “pretty”. My goal is not to create such images but to convey an idea; doesn’t matter if the idea came from me from deciding to press the shutter button or from the image itself after the fact.
What do I mean by an “idea”? Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure myself. But I’ll try to suss it out while writing this because there is something there, in my brain, that has “IDEA” sitting within it when thinking about how I want to present my photography. So, if I do not really intend to create “pretty” images, then what do I want to do with the images that are spread before me on the computer screen? This is how my brain chose “idea”. Photographs are created with light, a kilogram – or more – of machinery and accessories, and what the photographer sees both before and when looking through that machinery. But is this true? If it is, then I would not be much fussed about the art form, really. There needs to be something more humanly intangible about it.
A photograph should be a form of communication between the photographer and viewer, but it also should be a rather inefficient form of communication. What I mean by this is that the “idea” the photographer had when capturing the image or afterwards in the digital or traditional darkroom should be there, but maybe not so obvious, and the viewer sitting or standing looking at the image must try to figure out what that idea is or even, probably more commonly, form his/her own idea, which is conveyed to someone else who can either take that idea or veer off and form their own, so on and so forth, until perhaps getting back to the photographer. So, I guess I should say a photograph as ideas.
Now, this doesn’t mean that a so-called pretty image is void of any ideas. Quite the contrary. I am not against such images at all, but it is just not my goal when going out into the city with my camera. But, what I am saying when it comes to these images is that there needs to be something else about images other than being pretty, an idea or a family of ideas forming through that incredibly inefficient communication between photographer and viewers. That is when an image, pretty or grungy, becomes beautiful.