Photography is a truly democratic medium. With the smartphone we have a camera in our pocket ready to take a picture at any time. We have the means to publish our pictures as share them with the world on the internet. There are no rules or limitations on what we can photograph. More than 3.2 billion photos get uploaded to the internet every day.
The most common subjects are:
- selfies (15%)
- nature (13%)
- food (11%)
- pets (7%)
With all these possibilities what are we making out of it?
Thinking in systems
It might be helpful to look at photography as a system. And there’s one thing. That we need to know about systems to understand how the system impacts our photography: Systems tend to produce the output by the metrics they are measured by.
What does this mean? When we share our work, we have the intention to reach out to other people and to connect with them. We seek the intention of the attention and the appreciation of our peers. With like comment and subscribe it seems to be easy to measure the impact of our work. But does this really serve our purpose – remember he wanted to connect with other people. The best way to connect with other people is to create something meaningful. But what are the metrics for meaning if there are any.
So how do we create work that is meaningful to us might be meaningful for others? It was a journey for me as well and to move away from the metrics that social media gives me to something that is more intrinsic like meaning. What’s even more important: When I walked through the city and take pictures of random things, I asked myself: Is this meaningful to me and also could this be meaningful for others – for you the viewer.
“One eye of the photographer looks wide open through the viewfinder, the other, the closed looks into his own soul.”Henri Cartier-Bresson
I believe in the power of photography and in its ability to look beyond what’s on the surface look beyond the world of appearances. And the true magic of photography is this contradiction that at first glaze it can only capture what is there but if you take a closer look and if you spend some time with the image, you can notice that is shows something that is beyond.
It begins with establishing a relationship between us the photographer and what’s in front of our camera. We can do this by entering the state of mind but the Buddhist call beginner’s mind. It starts with our curiosity and questioning what we see and what is obvious to us. When we do this, we might notice a strangeness that lies underneath the visible world. We may stop and wonder why this is so and does it have to be this way. Photography can challenge us to look at the world differently – to view it form a different angle and find new perspectives.
It helps to play around with light, colour, contrast, patterns, shapes, lines and compositions. But in the end photography is more than the technique. It is about paying attention to what resonates with us and how it resonates with us. It is about pushing our thoughts aside and our preconceptions of what is a good picture and how it will be received.
It is this resonance that I feel which creates meaning. It is what sparks my interest, curiosity, emotion, or inspiration when I try to capture the beauty and diversity of life through my lens. Especially when I capture the mundane of the everyday life.
It is this act of getting into resonace with the subject that the viewer will notice and hopefully makes him stop and wonder and makes him connect with his inner being as well.
It is a very liberating process and a deeply fulfilling experience to be in the moment, connected with myself and with the world around me. It is the closed I can get to the spiritual state of being one with everything.