Visual Simplicity

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on August 26, 2013 in Personal |

I sometimes wonder whether a photographer has spent several hours sitting, admiring, planning and all the other things needed just to get that one simple photograph, or whether it was a matter of chance and, perhaps, good editing. From personal experience I know that the simplest of photographs – those which appear simple to the viewer when they are finally published – are often the most complicated. There is often a great deal of planning involved; sample shots taken from many different angles; playing with lights and shadows, depth of field and coloration.

Photo Credit: marfis75Creative Commons

Perhaps this is the most unappreciated part of taking a photograph: time and effort. Nowadays absolutely anyone with the most basic smart phone, it seems to me, can shoot a good photograph and upload it to one or another of many photographic web sites. Often these photographs are more a case of chance, of being in the right place at exactly that moment when all the factors involved in shooting are perfect. And since absolutely anyone can now do it, the real art of photography seems to be missing in our appreciation of the skills involved.

If you search through the Internet looking at photographs, trying to find just the right one to illustrate a blog post – as I often do – you’ll find literally thousands of examples which could be right, but aren’t just right. They have a little something missing, a small flaw which disturbs, a minor error which makes you move on to the next one. You can see that they have not been planned, that time hasn’t been taken to get just that perfect shot which would make a snap shot into a work of art. We are a society plagued with this feeling that everything has to be done quickly, that there is something else we need to do and taking a photograph, a quick shot to capture a moment, to maintain a memory, doesn’t come all that high up the list of priorities we set ourselves.

Photo Credit: Håkan DahlströmCreative Commons

And yet some people can sit for hours and watch a rod, a float bobbing in the water while waiting for a fish to bite.

What is missing is the inner peace and quiet. Our hectic lives, running  from one event to another and the need to do everything and to experience everything, have become a real mess. We don’t appear to have enough time to appreciate everything, but want to get out and see everything while we’ve got time. Time is an important factor in our lives, and that is a shame simply because this time is being used, abused even, in the wrong way. We miss out of so many things by hurrying from one place to another just so that we don’t miss out on anything. Our lives have become snapshots of what we see, or what we could see, rather than a collection of quality experiences.

Photo Credit: seier+seierCreative Commons

Sadly this hectic is visible in many of the photographs that I see, as well as a feeling that the person taking a photograph doesn’t appreciate the wonder of creation in their hands. Not that I am suggesting everyone with some form of camera be schooled in how to take masterpieces, how to create the perfect photograph each and every time they click the shutter, but I do wonder how many people kick themselves when they get to see the results of their work, when they come to realize that it could have been so much better had they allowed themselves a little more time, even a few seconds, because none of these memories can be re-lived. Every single moment is unique.

Photo Credit: *Kicki*Creative Commons

My second problem with many photography is that many do not appreciate the small things. We all want to see the big picture, capture the whole and all of its surroundings. The smaller details, the finer points, lose out. Time, again, is a problem. When I travel across the country to spend a few hours in a city, as a tourist, my time is limited. I know that I need to be back home at a certain time and I know that there is a great deal to see, so I pack as much into those few hours as is humanly possible and try to see, to experience everything as quickly as possible so that I don’t miss out on anything. What I then miss out on are the details, the little things which go to make up the whole. Without those there can be no whole, there can be no fulfilling experience. Take a photograph of my meal, of my coffee and cake, and miss out on the perfect pattern on the table. Shoot a church tower and pass on the statue inset in the brickwork slightly off to one side. Capture a sunset but not the play of shadows across water.

Photo Credit: Vincent_AFCreative Commons

What we, as viewers, get to see is a moment which is so unique that no one else can ever see it in real life. Or, rather, that is the way it should be. Anyone can experience the crowds in a baseball park, or a sunset, or a chocolate cake. Anyone can see the big picture in all its glory. But the only person who gets to see the smaller things, the details, the finer points, is the one sitting there at the time. And everything has already been photographed. I don’t think there is a single place left on earth that hasn’t been captured in one way or another for those who were not there. Perhaps we need to slow down a touch, to focus our view more on the things which are within the big picture, to simplify our view by cutting out all the visual noise and capture the small things which make up that everyone else has already seen and done.

Love & Kisses, Viki.


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