Thursday, January 30, 2014

Does The Photographer Make The Scene Or Does The Scene Make The Photograph?

Sunset, California - Stallion Springs, California
This was captured while standing in my yard. It was an ordinary location, but at the same time an extraordinary scene.
Does the photographer make the scene or does the scene make the photograph? This blog started on March 16, 2011 with a post with that as the title. The original article was first published on a stock photography website, but I wanted to place it in a more public place. I didn't really have any further vision of this blog at that time, so it is interesting to look back at that journey and see where it is now.

In that original post, I wondered if the scene was most important, or the photographer's vision. I said, "An ordinary photo of the Grand Canyon is better than a really good photo of the drainage ditch next to the highway." I also said, "The photographer is what makes the scene great."
Lampshade - Goodyear, Arizona
A photograph of an ordinary subject that was used in that very first blog post.
So which is it? The scene or the photographer? I'm reminded time and time again that it is both.

I see great photographs all of the time of very ordinary things. The photographer had the vision to create an amazing piece of art from something no one else would have looked twice at.
Colorado River From Hoover Dam - Hoover Dam, Nevada
A photograph of an extraordinary subject that was used in that very first blog post.
I also experience in my own photography great success when I photograph great scenes. Sometimes I'm blown away. I know my own vision played a large part in the photographs, but I also know that the scene was also key. Even a quick day trip to Big Bear Lake reinforces this.

I think that when photographic vision and great scenes are combined together in an image, there is something magical about that. There is a benefit to finding and photographing great scenes.
Boulder Bay - Big Bear Lake, California
Big Bear is so beautiful that an ordinary photograph at a local park looks extraordinary.
The trap is thinking that the scene alone is what matters. You must still have vision. You must still be creative. You must still be an artist.

The take-away here is that when photographic vision and great scenes merge together, that is when amazing things happen. Great scenes don't need to be in some far off location. Look for them around you, like in the image at the top (Sunset, California), which I captured while standing in my own yard.

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