Some would argue that photography is more challenging than another visual art form where you’re able to start with a blank canvas, and lay down whichever marks, shapes, words and colours you wish.
Indeed with other art forms like writing or composing music, you can start from nothing but the potential of the language you have – and even then, you can expand, distort, embellish and reinvent that language, using words with no previous meaning or sounds without a familiar structure.
But with photography, you have to use what’s there in front of you.
Perhaps then, the largest aspect of creative work for a photographer, is simply choosing where to point your camera.
Because every scene we immortalise as a photograph has to include the raw elements already there – the light, the objects, the shapes, the textures.
With more studio based photography, there is arguably more creative control, and perhaps it’s more akin to the other art forms mentioned above, in that you can start with a blank canvas, and add in the elements you want.
You can change the background, the objects, the lighting, and so on, before you commit to any shots.
But out in the field, wandering with camera, there is no such luxury.
For me this is one of the great excitements and challenges with photography – the hunt for compositions that I find beautiful and interesting, without constructing them artificially myself.
Of course whatever you find out on your ventures, you still have the freedom to position your camera in an almost infinite array of angles and positions before you release the shutter.
Plus you have an equally wide range of options with how you set up your camera.
The aperture, shutter speed, focus and so on, can each have a significant impact on how the final image will look.
For the purposes of this discussion, let’s put to one side the world of post-processing, which at its extreme, allows you to take virtually any initial image and contort it into almost any other.
We’ll stick here with just the creative choices you have at the point of making the photograph in camera.
And whilst they are plentiful, the scene there in front of you is still the most dominant factor in how the final photograph will look.
So, when we photograph, are we creating something afresh? Or just capturing what’s already there? What’s your take on this?
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