I’m promoting an ANTI-OBJECTIVE school of photography.
Don’t make pictures to just describe or show things as they are. Rather, seek to make your own SUBJECTIVE view of the world, realty, and things.
1. The death (and rebirth) of painting
In the past, before photography… painters sought to describe the world around them, by trying to paint “photo-realistic” works of art. For example, they wanted to make paintings that looked like picture-perfect photographs.
For example, early painters tried to show paintings of sunsets, to look like a sunset they saw in real life. Or when they painted a “still life” of a bowl of fruit, they wanted to make the apples look as real as possible.
You can imagine, when photography came about, and did a better job “describing” the “objective” visual “reality” of the world much quicker, more efficiently, and more accurately than painting, a lot of painters were pissed off. Why? Cameras and photographers were taking over their jobs, and doing it better than them.
Anyways, the (good) painters were smart. The Impressionists, Surrealists, and Cubists did a good job of showing the true strength of painting：the job of making a FALSE view of reality. To evoke the feeling of a scene, rather than an objective view of what it “really looked like.”
2. How did Picasso see the world differently, from the rest of us?
For example a lot of people don’t “get” Picasso. They see his works as childish. But Picasso was able to paint like Raphael as a youth. He realized something more interesting through Cubism— he could create his own view of representation of reality. He compressed all perspectives, and put them all on one flat visual plane. For example in his paintings, you can see the front, back, and the sides of a woman’s face, all in the same image.
3. Fudge reality
Anyways, as photographers, we are fighting against the tyranny of reality. We can only warp and bend reality to a certain extent. By using telephoto or wide-angle lenses, we can change how our pictures look… when compared to “real life”. For example, I think the way our eyes see the real world is roughly a 40mm perspective (in landscape format, as our two eyes are arranged in a landscape format).
4. Ways how photographers bend reality:
- To shoot a vertical (portrait orientation) picture is NOT how we see reality.
- We see the world in color, and shooting black and white is a unique and different way of seeing reality. Or if you shoot color, to process your colors in an “unnatural” way.
- Using lenses wider than a 40mm lens (like a 28mm) or lenses longer than a 40mm (like a 85mm lens).
Anyways, our duty as photographers isn’t to just try to make picture-perfect representations of “objective” reality. We’re trying to paint our own version, or describe our own version of reality… how we see the world.
5. How to photograph your own reality
More practical suggestions：
- Process your pictures, or use filters or presets that describe how you FEEL. How does your processing of your pictures change or affect the emotional response you get from your pictures? Example：high contrast processing for edgy or dynamic images. Muted or desaturated colors for more nostalgic or soft images. Gritty black and white for raw and harsh images.
- Don’t try to imitate the “look” of other artists. Seek to make pictures that reveal YOUR subjective view of reality.
- Accept the truth that there is no such thing as “objectivity” in photography. All photographs are lies, or subjective perspectives or points of view from YOU.
- Don’t make pictures to “describe” what things look like. Play around with your perspective, angle, tilt your camera, and use the flash to make it LOOK DIFFERENT from what it looks in “real life”. Create surreal images, that don’t look real.
BE CREATIVE EVERYDAY,