Friday, December 13, 2013

Capturing vs. Creating In Photography (The Study of a Photograph)

Three Clothespins - Stallion Springs, California
For me, photography is not capturing. Photography is creating.

Capturing is snapshots. It is archiving, but it is void of interpretation. The photographer is absent from the photographs.

Creating is commentary. It is giving voice to the scene. The photographer has interjected a piece of himself or herself into the image.


I love to create photographs. It is my mind's best outlet. There is a joy that I get when I create interesting images.

Yesterday I wanted to create a photograph, but, with the holidays quickly approaching, I simply had no time. My to-do list was long, and the hours short. Finally, just minutes before the evening sun dipped below the horizon, I found a moment.

I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I had to act fast. I grabbed a gold-ish cloth napkin, a thin bungee, and three small clothespins. I laid the napkin on a chair that had the sun's last light still shining on it. I clipped the clothespins on the bungee and stretched it in front of the napkin. With my one free hand, I operated my Sigma DP2 Merrill camera, opening the shutter a few different times to ensure that I had a good image.

Three Clothespins at the top of the page is the result of that quick moment of creativity. I literally created that image. It is not merely captured. Is it great? No. Is it interesting and at the very least good? Yes.

I used the rule of three (twice, actually), both color and light contrast, and imbalance to draw the viewer in. Note how the focus draws the viewer's eyes to the two left clothespins and also to the upper right near the right clothespin shadow. There is enough to hold the viewer's attention for several seconds, yet it is actually a very simple photograph.

What does the image say? What is my voice through the photograph? It's more a feeling of warmth. It has a retro-feel, so perhaps a fleeting glimpse of a past memory is found in it. There is a certain uneasiness to it, so maybe that memory has some negativity attached. There is a bit of mystery. The image is a bit abstract, so the voice is a bit abstract, too.

If you are creating images and not just merely capturing them, the sky is the limit on what you can create. Whatever your mind comes up with, you have the ability to make a tangible photograph of that. So be creative and then create.

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