They always tell you to photograph the stuff you love, and I have always found that a bit frustrating. I hasn’t really worked for me before. How do you identify the “stuff you love” in this context. For some it can be as simple as; they love horses, so they photograph horses. For me, it’s a bit more elusive.
This summer it dawned on me that I do enjoy street photography. Why is that? Mostly because I like to watch people. How they look and what they do. I always do that when I’m out walking the streets or sitting on the subway. It is however some way between just observing, and actually taking photographs. At least for me it is. But I try as best I can. The thing is, I didn’t realize this until recently. I have photographed street on and off for many years, but I didn’t know exactly why. And it only became apparent to me that I have done street quite a bit when I went through my library a few weeks ago.
A shot this one back in 1991.
Then, just the other day, I realized another thing I always tend to do. This may sound strange, but I find a surprising amount of pleasure in various man made objects. Usually finely crafted things or precision mechanics, but it can also be old and weathered objects. Big or small, but most often small. I have stuff lying around just because I like to pick them up from time to time.
This small microswitch has been lying on my desk for at least 3 years now. Every now and then I pick it up, pushing the lever and enjoy the solid click and the smooth action. I also remember boarding a plane once. I had to wait a minute right in the doorway, and then I had a look at the hinges used for the doors on that plane. Beautifully machined parts that was custom designed and manufactured for that single purpose. I loved it. Why don’t I photograph all these objects? I don’t know, but I guess I didn’t connected the dots all the way to photography. Also, I don’t want to do straight product shots. It has to be something more. Maybe I was afraid of not being any original.
Another thing that dawned on me recently is that I really love threes in all its forms. Both live and … processed. This was also a thing that I realized by looking through my library.
In fact I do find all the details and stuff lying around in nature (leaves, twigs, fungi, and so on) very interesting, but I find it hard to photograph. Light is often a problem in the forest, which often lead to boring images. And that leads me back to my recent introduction to off camera flash photography.
So, any conclusion to all this? Maybe. I find the recent realizations quite motivating, and I like that there are a variety of stuff. Streets are fun, but you need the time and opportunity to get in to the city. Nature …. well you have to get out, which is a good thing, but not always possible. At least not in daylight during winter. Small objects can be shot in an ad-hoc home studio, or on location. As long as I can find the time, there should be an opportunity. Also, adding my own light to the equation makes thing easier since I’m not always able to postpone my other obligations every time the light is optimal.