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Why Black and White Photos Evoke Better Memories


You gotta squint hard at a black and white photo without much context, which forces you to use your imagination and add color to your past (monochrome photo) memories.

As a consequence, the “disfluency” of the image (the fact that a high contrast, sometimes blurry or out of focus photo) isn’t clear is precisely what makes the photograph or memory more memorable.

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HOKUSAI: Learn from the Masters of Art

“From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking into account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvellous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own.” -Hokusai

Hokusai apparently exclaimed on his deathbed, “If only Heaven will give me another ten years … Just another five more years, then I could become a real painter.” 

A Haiku Hokusai wrote towards the end of his life, shortly before his death:

“Though as a ghost, I shall lightly tread, the summer fields.”

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Whenever I hear the concept of a “content creator” thrown around, I see it as a disparaging remark/insulting. Certainly when people say “I love the content you put out!” it is generally meant in a positive way. However … what we create isn’t mere “content”. I see “content” like the anonymous pink chicken nugget toothpaste sludge — not good.

I’ve also heard photographers justify their Instagram behavior by saying:

You must feed the beast (social media treadmill machine).

A subtle reframing:

See yourself as a PHOTO creator, and a substance creator … not just a “content creator”.

Or even more simply put, see yourself as a creator.

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Optimal Simplicity

For a long time, I always thought minimalism was the goal. Now I’m starting to realize that minimalism ain’t the goal, and it is a trap. Too many of us millenials fall victim to the “minimalism for minimalism sake” or “minimalism as a form of elite virtue-signaling”.

What the true goal is optimal simplicity. To choose the option(s) in life which are maximally simple and easy for you, in order to augment what you truly care for in your life, whether it be arts creation, creativity, time with friends and family, entrepreneurial ventures, etc.

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The More You Shoot, the Better

I was thinking:

How much *should* you shoot in photography?

And my general thought:

The more you shoot, the better.

Why? Creative iteration. The more you shoot, the more you learn. The more you shoot, the more risks you take which can lead to creative new photographic innovations.

Also, if you want to make more interesting compositions in photography, you need to shoot a lot, and you need to shoot a lot of risky photos. One of the big downsides of film photography is sometimes we get too scared to “waste film”.

To shoot a lot is like exercise. The more you shoot, the more “reps” (repetitions) you get in. And there is also this myth of “the decisive moment”— that somehow these demigod photographers would get their great photos with just a single shot. And why this bravado that somehow nailing a great photo in one shot is better? We gotta get rid of this ridiculous romantic notion (all romantic notions are false to reality and bad).

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How Many Photos Should You Shoot Everyday?

Certainly there isn’t a certain quota of photos you should everyday, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem to hurt to shoot a lot of photos everyday. Lately I’ve been quite productive with shooting — around 800-1000 photos a day.

For myself, this seems to be beneficial. Shooting small JPEG, with high contrast monochrome or cross process filter on RICOH GR III seems to be great. Why? Small JPEG allows me to quickly import photos to my iPad or laptop, and allows me to upload quicker. Also, shooting pre-processed JPEG means less time having to post process.

Above all, it seems the more you shoot, the better. Why? Because the bias is typically we don’t shoot enough, because we are too much perfectionists. Also, we suffer from “paralysis by analysis”— we don’t shoot photos because we are worried the photos won’t be “interesting enough”, even though in our gut we want to.

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In Photography Even the Smallest Thing Can be a Leitmotif

I think I finally have this Henri Cartier-Bresson quote figured out:

The beauty of photography is that you can reveal beauty in even the smallest thing.

Or in other words:

All things, no matter how small can be beautiful.

Then it is simply your task as a photographer to strive to seek, discover, notice, and document these small beautiful details. In praise of capturing beauty in the mundane.

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