What Photography is to me – Part 1 of ?

Photography to me started when I was as little as I can remember back, my dad would always have a camera and a video camera at just about every single thing that we did and went to. I won’t get too much into video because I was not called into that area. My calling/passion is in the still world, a picture. One at a time, several a day, millions in my lifetime. I capture images because that is what makes me, me. My goal in these “What Photography is to Me” blog posts is gain a better understanding and awareness of what pictures mean, along with giving you an inside scoop as to how and why I create the images that I do.

I wish I had a few of those old childhood pictures to share with you, but seeing that at this moment I don’t have any I will have to share at a later date. I do want to talk a bit about a few pictures that I do have. I know that you will form your own idea/opinion of each image. Good. That is what this is all about. I would love to hear what you see in the images. What story do you have to tell? What story are you reading? How this image makes you feel? Photography is not only capturing images, but also viewing and reading images. The feelings, emotions and reaction that the image brings to you, the viewer. (See my A Richard Avedon Essay Post for more on this.)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - Homeless with red cup.

Anyone who has ever been to Las Vegas has passed at least one person spending their day doing this. “Merry Christmas & a happy new year. Very grateful for ANYTHING. Thanks GOD BLESS” is what his note to by-passers states. Why did I take this picture? Why not? I mean, this picture is going to make a connection with about 97% of the people that look at it. Some may say “Oh look at that bum” or “Everyone takes that picture, there’s nothing special about it.” I took this picture because that’s what I do, take pictures. Not in the thinking that this is a special picture and that it should be given an award, but more that it has made a connection to a very high percentage of it’s viewers.

It is not necessarily a picture that anyone would buy, or even pass on a link to their friends, but think of the thoughts, life stories, and tales that are instantly brought to mind by viewing it. You could talk about his self-esteem, his clothing, his note, red cup (does the red cup get noticed more than a blue cup), his jeans (no holes, and there is not a single spot of dirt on them), the hat, scarff….. the list is pretty long. I took this picture because I wanted to, he’s a guy that is ‘different’ in society, and yet has celebrity status. Let me hear your story.

On to another picture.

Walking along noticing this beautiful (or ugly pending on your take of stained glass) piece above me forced me to take a picture. The first result, more of a reaction photo to what I was seeing. I really didn’t think about this any further than just a good exposure. I liked the two right corners just having a touch of the darker outer-circle and by putting them right there it moved the center of the piece just enough off center. Recomposing, I captured the picture below, which I have a better liking for. It mainly just keep my interest for a much longer amount of time and I feel much more visually comfortable, a visual zen one may say, viewing it.

Stained Glass Las VegasStained Glass Las Vegas

Obviously, this is a subjective comment. It is what I see and feel when viewing. But photography to me is not only how I see, but what everyone else sees and feels as well. I really try hard to make images that make people think. Some stories, some ideas, some others have had more a personal connection because of a pervious happening in their lifetime. There is a connection from my image to the viewers eyes that provokes though process. Sometimes in a more direct way and others in a less, but the connection was made. I look forward to hearing your stories, thoughts and ideas.

2 comments

  1. Hi Michael~ Two thoughts to share. Your overhead shots, both beautiful, but I also feel more comfortable with the second. Being a bit more off balance, with the darker,more complex border to the right provides some ying to the yang, It reels in the focus just enough to create some boundaries. It does entertain and satisfy a bit more. you are quite talented. Second thought.Working at a nursing home, I am honored and priveleged enough to witness some very raw moments. The other day a gal from a photography class came in and wanted to just "take some pictures of the elderly". Obviously they have rights, and deserve respect, but our social worker began to show her around and she shot some one dimensional shots of smiling women sitting together on a bench. Pretty generic. She took no time to compose or adjust lighting etc. In my mind, I was framing the profile, in black and white of an old Italian woman, staring blankly out the window, natural lighting and shadows,her salt & pepper wirey hair,large nose with large pores, empty eyes now sad,traces of smile wrinkles long ago,lids half mast. Some say I think too much-maybe some people see more
    than meets the eye,some people think in more than one dimension?Love your work and your thoughts.

    • Thanks Lori! Those raw moments are part of a dimension that only those willing to see are able to see it. Many are even intimidated to capture those moments. Photography holds a power that not too many other mediums hold and in the current time, I cannot help but think what better way to bring some personal-connectivity back into society than with photography.

      A photo will touch every person that views it. A photo will provoke a response when it is combined with a long article that someone doesn't have time to read. A photo will touch many in a way that nothing else can. A photo can provide evidence. A photo holds power. Thanks again for your kind words and sharing your story, Lori.

      -Mike

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