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Strong opinions, weakly held

My new photographic sensibility

After some recent contemplation, I’ve completely rethought my approach to photography. I decided to write about this after reading Khoi Vinh’s post about a digital photography class that he’s taking and the kinds of pictures he aspires to take.

For many years, I’d say that my taste in photography has been pretentious and that my aspirations matched. I wanted to take the kinds of photos that people look at and think, “How artful and interesting.”

Flickr has ruined all of that. Go to Flickr any day of the week and you can see hundreds of beautiful, artistic, interesting photos. Search Flickr for tags relating to the last place you went on vacation. Somebody has already taken great photos of the things that you saw and did.

My new focus is on taking pictures of stuff I want to remember. I still want to take well composed photos, but I’m going to focus less on artistic value and more on sentimental value. It’s easy enough to find the art better done elsewhere. If I go on a trip or go to an event and come away with a collection of photos that captures well what I experienced, then I’ll consider it a success.

For what it’s worth, I think the thing that screwed up my perspective on photography was working on the high school yearbook. Our teacher had lots of opinions on what makes for a good and bad photo and I think that’s where the pretentiousness crept in.

1 Comment

  1. I understand your thoughts. In the last year or so, I’ve been approached three times by people wanting to license my personal photos for commercial use. In all three cases, it was photos of my family that they wanted, not my artsy ones. Just a thought.

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