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Making Pictures With Professional Photographer John Enman

Digital is bringing out the inner artist

I recently read a review on one of the new camera offerings for 2022. Wow, if someone told me this was the future of photography, even as little as five years ago, I might have scoffed at what seemed to be nothing more than a fantasy.

Photography has become so pervasive that almost everyone has become involved in some way with taking pictures. Sure, most of what we make are merely documents to show others or remind us of some moment or thing. But along with what might have begun as a quick snapshot, much of the time there is lots of creativity. Digital image making has allowed the inner artist in everyone to climb out.

Those commenting on the medium of photography around the time of the First World War did not acknowledge that photographers could produce abstract or distortions to the extent that painters were doing. There was nothing in photography that would compete with innovations of painters like Picasso and Matisse.

However, there were a growing number of artist-photographers like Alfred Stiegletz and Edward Steichen that were actually bringing photography in line with modern painting by creating abstract images and innovative processes. The pioneer of what was at the time called the “Modernist” movement in North America was Paul Strand.

The current age of digital photography seems to have vitalized photography more than any one could have guessed even as little as ten years ago. Attend any event and there will be lots of camera types from cellphones to impressive DSLR’s being used to creatively photograph subjects from every angle. That said, its obvious that photography has become more prolific than it has ever been and photographers are showing viewers the abstract and the unusual. There are lots of instances of image manipulation that one can find without looking very hard.

When I look of the style of photography practiced by the greats like Stiegletz, Steichen, and Strand. I see that, as with modern photographers, they were very much involved in looking at everyday subjects from different angles or perspectives. They photographed the usual in unique ways and photographed the unusual in well, unusual ways. They searched out things that many would ignore because they were ugly or boring, and chose diverse photographic ideas and visually discussed them in interesting and unconventional ways.

There are so many places where one will see photographs of landscapes, portraits of people and animals, and close-up flower shots. Usually they are very nice and sometime are downright beautiful, but I although a short time ago it was rare for someone to make abstract images with unique views, that has changed.

Abstract art and abstract photography may not be to everyone’s liking, and I know when we show our photographs to other people we want them to comment favourably about our pictures. But when a photographer takes a chance and tries to visualize and photograph something differently, they should not waste time worrying about praise or criticism.

Look for the unusual, the ugly, the boring, and the unique. Then contemplate about photographing it in a personal way. For readers that have the interest, take some time and find out about those pioneer photographers I mentioned, and I very much need to include two famous women photographers from those early days, Imogen Cunningham and Diane Arbus.

Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week.

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