Sunday, October 13, 2013

Unfocused or defocused?

In "the world's best photo blog", M Johnston said:
People do realize, right, that travel isn't the same as a project? Serious photographers often have tightly focused projects [...] and amateurs often don't. Touring the world is fun, but you can be just as unfocused elsewhere as you are at home!

I wrote to him:

Mike, I'd like to differentiate between unfocused and defocused.

Some believe (some, strongly so) that the most important question about photographing is What To Photograph. In my style and photography, I have that reversed, I think the subject is unimportant.
I believe the picture is the thing, not the subject. One of my favorite paintings is van Gogh's Sunflowers. I am not very interested in flowers, but that painting, to me, is aesthetically powerful.

I think one can work as a Defocused "walk-around" photographer (Street Photography is a subset of this), and make significant aesthetic work, if inspiration is with you.

Subject focus of some kind may coalesce out of this, as it did one day for me when photographing  in Edinburgh, I notice that Red came up a lot, and followed it.

But I think part of the defocused way of working is to let go of the ego control, and slide into a zone of "cooperation with the Universe". The pictures will find you.

Many of the very best photographers came to make some of their best work outside any projects they were working on, they just suddenly Came Across inspiration somewhere.
To actually pursue this can, perversely, require more discipline, because the logical mind objects to it, the logical mind likes limits, order, predictability.


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