Musings on Art and Photography

Another local photographer posted a short YouTube video of the great photographer Ansel Adams speaking on visualization. The following are my comments on the subject.


As an artist in other media, I must go through the visualization stage. My pencil or brush can’t create an image by pressing a button. There are no short cuts.

Light-writing (photo-graphy) is a two-edged sword because it’s easy to push the button. It doesn’t take a lot of deliberate forethought to create beautiful, well-crafted shots. We can get very good at this with practice. People may pay a lot for our skills.

But as an art, we must go through the same deliberate process as using ink, pencil, or paint. Cameras do not allow us to turn off our brains, to short-cut the creative process of visualizing and working towards bringing that vision into fruition.

I find it true that light-writing this can be notoriously difficult. We have to manipulate intangible physical objects (photons). Because the camera stage can be so difficult, I think there’s a barrier that can make people reluctant to cross. The seduction, the Dark Side, if you will, is to be deceived that just because we can push a button and an image magically appears, we’re suddenly an artist without having to visualize and work the tools of the trade to make that idea reality.

As for tools, with light-writing, we have to start with the camera. If we’re creating what was not recorded, we’re not engaged in light-writing but moving to mixed media. This is not to suggest that it’s bad per se. (Also note that I include necessary post as photography (curves, WB,  etc.). We finish the creative process in post (LR, PS, etc.)).

I have no problem acknowledging that a lot of what I do doesn’t go through the full process. Much of it is to hone my craft, and make some cash doing it.

On the other hand, I find it a rather interesting anecdote that when people seek me or my work out, it’s always the shots that I’ve gone through the full creative process on. I had the idea, I worked the process, and those works grab people somehow.

Even in the studio yesterday, most of the shots were on the fly because of the action going down, but again, the one shot that got immediate comments, every time, was the one I thought through and created deliberately.

It’s not a scientific answer, purely anecdote, but I do find it interesting.

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