Mar 4, 2012

The Art of Photography

It was never about the camera or the lens, or the film stock or how many pixels she had. Never about the shutter speed, the aperture, or what part of the world she was in or what time of day it was.

Click ... click ... click.

It’s not about how many pictures she could take per minute or if the background was white or black, a high mountaintop or the sea below. Nor was it about the make-up or the clothes on the subject, or the weather, the sunshine or clouds. And it was never about the composition or the lighting or the half-smile on the model's face. Or how she manipulated photoshop.

It was about all of these, plus ... a sense of what had gone before, of what could be, the creative spirit, a curious mind and a ready disposition to bring individuality, aesthetics, preparation, and an idea whose time had come to the forefront.

Then it was waiting, endlessly ... waiting for the light or the rain to start again while monitoring to capture that unique image of a serious eye twinkle, a hair out of place, a commanding pose, a wind-swept vista, a dramatic sense or a setting sun.

It was a sense that, deep down, this was the moment she had been planning.

Then, it was all forgotten, sent to the back of the memory banks for a spontaneous mingling of feelings and experience.


As the analogy goes: “Play the music, not the instrument.”

Photography is like that. Like all arts, it’s about the imagination and the idea coming together with the technical, philosophical, physiological, emotional and spiritual states to create something that is a combination of everything. Yet, it becomes and entity on its own ... a photograph.

                                    (Photograph of Queen Elizabeth by Annie Leibovitz)

Brian Hebb writing about Annie Leibovitz at
“A photographer is not good just because she knows how to use a camera. She is good because she has trained her brain to search for the meaning, the story, the feeling and the essence of what her art is all about. The tools are, of course, the camera, the shutter speed, the aperture, the lens, the filters, the composition and many other components, but then comes the location, the light, the frame, the colours, the model, the positioning, the inspiration for the moment and good darkroom or photoshop technique. Those are what she learns scientifically and practically. But then comes "being." All the living, and learning, and experiencing and awareness, and perhaps the years of practice and failure and success it takes to get to the moment in time where she is able to make the perfect picture more perfect. Better, perhaps, than the many other professional photographers in the same field. That takes more than work; it takes experience, total love of the medium, the curious mind, all the connections she has learned and from which she has studied and her total being at one in the moment. If she has all these things going for her, she might just call upon the universe to help her be better than she ever thought she could be. In the end, is she brave enough to click that shutter knowing the collaborative elements have conspired with her to create a masterpiece? And, could she really tell us why she is better than most? Probably not.”


"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."
-  Edgar Degas

"The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity."
-  Alberto Giacometti

"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all."
-  Michelangelo

"Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit."
-  Ansel Adams