Day: December 25, 2011

On My Mind – Intended Practice for Photography

23 December 2011

With photography, because assets are invested in capturing images, it is likely a good thing to create a system of ‘intended practice’ so that time and resources are not wasted. While image capture can occur anywhere within any environment, determining what images to capture within available time requires good understanding, judgment and planning. These develop noting how success occurred with previous images. Beyond this, such discernment also develops recognizing what possibilities were available within unsuccessful images.

Some photographs are best considered first photographs, images that are test shots or scouting shots, images that allow you to understand the subject and its environment and possibilities for future shots. Working with such photographs acquaints you with what else is possible and becomes your intention for subsequent photographs. Subsequent photographs can be approached directly – “I will go to the site/subject and try such and such.” Or, subsequent photographs can be approached indirectly, returning to the site/subject in the mindset that “If I’m there again I will take advantage of the situation to create this result.”

Because the timeline between initial, scouting photographs and subsequent photographs can be great, record keeping regarding intentions is needed. The record considers the initial photograph – what was happening with light, composition, camera angle and camera settings. And, the record considers intention – what you intend for the image now that you’ve edited it, thought about it and recognized its other possibilities; the record notes conditions that would be present were subsequent shots to be attempted. In both cases, whatever the image is about holds something that draws you back; this is the other important variable about the subject that needs to be articulated and noted.  It is the quality you want to be revealed in subsequent photographs.

While gathering intentions for upcoming photographs does require record keeping, being able to seize the opportunity for that photograph needs to be immediately available, something more than returning to a notebook. A map of the region to be photographed is a good collecting point for intentions in upcoming photographs; a map can be hung on a wall and sticky notes containing brief notes can be attached to it in terms of intended/upcoming photographs. The sticky note can contain information about the upcoming photographs and can point you back to your notebook for intentions.

Snap shots are images taken when someone stands up, clicks the shutter and most likely repeats with little or no intention. Photography, on the other hand, is about seeing and understanding the world through the camera lens with intention. In the next few days I will most likely hang a map of our municipal district on my study wall and use a moleskin and sticky notes to articulate what I would like to see happen in those photographs I take that are beyond the initial scouting photographs.

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