A Photographic Manifesto
Up until today, I did not have a photography manifesto I have a manifesto for music making. In fact, I’ve written several over the years. I have one for writing and I even have a cooking manifesto (which inspired me to start Beef & Steel). But, for photography, nothing. This really hit home while reading […]
Up until today, I did not have a photography manifesto
I have a manifesto for music making. In fact, I’ve written several over the years. I have one for writing and I even have a cooking manifesto (which inspired me to start Beef & Steel). But, for photography, nothing.
This really hit home while reading A Lesser Photographer, an excellent manifesto for minimalist photography by C.J. Chilvers. Whatever kind of photographer you are, I think you’ll find something to inspire or challenge you in Chilver’s ideas.
Manifestos take time to write and, in terms of photography, should probably only be written by people who have a lot more experience than I do. Still, I’d like offer this, in very draft and provisional form, as an attempt at a Manifesto for Photography.
Truth And Light – A Manifesto For Photography
When you take a photo, ask yourself, what is the light doing in this place and what in this photo do I want people to see and focus on?
Gear matters, but how much it matters depends on your final photographic output. Decide on the gear you need based on where and in what format people will see your images.
The photographer’s craft is in bringing technology and technique into the service of editing reality. What is your reality and what part of that reality do you want to share with us?
Vary the height your camera is from the ground and the distance between your camera and your subject when you photograph. Consider the relationships between the things in your frame; small & big, important and unimportant, beautiful & ugly. Study the work of architects and cartoonists, they are masters of perspective.
Use contrast selectively, as a way to convey the meaning and relationships between the things in your photos. Adding more contrast (and clarity) may appeal to you in some ways, but might obscure the purpose of your photo in others.
Don’t confuse popularity with quality. Social media can be helpful, but honestly, is being a hit on Social Media really your life’s ambition?
Be a confident individual and draw from a range of sources. Look for ideas from photographers who work in other fields and live in other countries and also explore resources from other arts, like painting, graphic design or cartooning that can give you a fresh perspective on visual communication.
Give yourself permission to take snapshots and give yourself time to make detailed compositions. Learn how both work and when you need to switch from one to the other.
Identify the people you know who really understand photography and who want to see you improve and put more weight on what they have to say. If you don’t know anyone who fits the bill seek them out and put your work in front of them, even if you have to pay to do so.
Why are you into photography? If you want religion go to church and if you want community, there are always cheaper hobbies.
If your goal is to produce photos that uniquely reflect your vision and skills, then align your life accordingly. If that means keeping your day job, turning down some paid gigs, or being a semi-pro, then embrace those choices as your path to photographic self-determination
Decide what you like but invest your emotional energy into your craft. Be open, because even techniques we dislike, or don’t understand can be used to create art.
Say to yourself, I will make great photos, not in spite of my limitations, but because of them. Let your weaknesses and defects become part of what makes your work unique and recognisable and rejoice in having a visual voice that is all your own.
So, there you have it, very incomplete and rough around the edges. Of course, I’m curious to hear what you think, or if you have your own manifesto you’d like to share.