Well, it is that time of year after all. A time for retrospection and resolution.
I have a couple of confessions about photography to make. I’ve tried to deny these thoughts, but as time goes by, I find myself only confirming them more strongly than ever. They are:
- I like my own work better than others.
- I really do not like the work of most other photographers.
There are clear disadvantages to such thinking. It take me right out of the community of photographers where the essential ‘in’ is to like, demonstrably so, their work and to hope, via some sort of polite quid pro quo, that others will like yours. It encourages isolation. It works against making any effort to put on some form of public display.
Note that these confessions do not ascribe any sort of artistic worth to my own work. It may be awful or passable but in either case it doesn’t matter – I still like it. As to the work of others, well, in this case artistry comes first. Which, as I said, limits what I like to pretty much the established or upcoming art photographers. Popular photography, on the whole, leaves me stone cold. More than stone cold in truth, repelled is more like it.
This is why, if anyone looks at my online portfolio, you will find only a few images that fall into what one might call the popular look. Few of these were intentionally photographed, usually, almost entirely by accident, I ended up with an approximation of a popular style. Displaying these elicited precisely the same sets of multiple likes and loves that one might expect but only a very rare few cases did my own appreciation of the image match that of others. But I still put them up; some part of me still longs to join the in-crowd and bask in that kind of glory.
But leaving that aside, this photographic solipsism also has advantages. Firstly, although many of my photographs fail me touch me despite my best efforts, enough do. The ones that do continue to touch me, even as years pass by and my own photographic efforts evolve and change. This are the pictures I go back to and I draw real sustenance from them. There may be technical reasons within the photograph for this, but those alone are not enough. There has to be an emotional resonance. It make take no more than the jogging of some long lost memory for this to happen, and the picture itself might be unattractive to another observer. Beyond unattractive, simply meaningless. But for me, it counts.
After all this time, I now realise that’s all I want from my photography. It was there from the beginning. So why did I spent years chasing the photographic pipe dreams? Not to mention spending a fortune on unnecessary photographic equipment.