A Visual CV

Inspired by Nathan Wirth’s visual Q&A at COOPH, The Cooperative of Photography. They call it a Visual Q&A. Wirth answered a series of questions with images and his answers are brilliant.

I think this is a great exercise in self-awareness for any photographer, creating a sort of Visual CV. My answers are below.
 

Who are you?

 
Me
 

Why photography?

 
Ducks
 

What is your trademark photographic style?

 
Style
 

What truly inspires you?

 
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Where do you go when you close your eyes?

 
Rose-Coloured
 

Where is home for you?

 
IMG_7431
 

How would you describe your lifestyle?

 
OpenRoad
 

What makes a great shot?

 
Simplicity
 

How do you view the world?

 
sunflower back
 

What is an important lesson you’ve learned?

 
Belonging
 
I’d love to see your visual CV. Add a link in the comments section here if you try it yourself.
 

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Letting Resonance Guide your Photography

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Resonation can arise within us when we are resting in the space of openness and simple appreciation. This happens when we receive our perceptions and connect with them deeply. Resonance occurs when our being responds to what we have seen in a deep way, so that our body and mind are fully engaged; we have physical sensations, and our hearts open and we feel joy in the act of connecting. Resonation is an expression of our innate wisdom as it connects to our world. ~ Julie duBose

Julie describes the experience of resonance very well. We notice resonance when we are fully present and engaged, aware of what we’re feeling in our bodies.
 

Resonance is felt.

 
The dictionary says that resonance is produced by sympathetic vibration, or frequencies that are close. Resonance invokes an association or strong emotion. It feels significant.

In physics, resonance is a phenomenon where a given system is affected by another vibrating system or by external forces and oscillates with greater amplitude at certain preferential frequencies. ~ Wikipedia

To see this in action, watch this fascinating video of salt affected by different sound vibrations. Make sure your sound is turned down low, as the frequencies may hurt your ears.
 

 
With regard to photography, we all respond to images or visual cues in the environment in different ways – depending on our own associated memories and experiences. Some images resonate more than others.
 

It’s a good exercise in self-awareness to notice what resonates with you. Pay attention to how it feels. And then, follow up with a dose of curiosity.

 
With the image above, I first noticed the red tree. It’s an unusual colour to find in springtime. Red stands out. It’s felt as passion. I did photograph what stopped me – the red colour.

As I moved closer, I also noticed and appreciated how the red blended with the spring green and the blue sky. Intentional camera movement places the emphasis on the colours (rather than form) and the composition gives them each equal treatment. Even the movement suggests the resonant vibration between the three.

In the book, The Zen of Creativity, author John Daido Loori shares his teacher’s (Minor White) instructions for photography. I’ve adapted them below.
 

* Venture into the landscape without expectations.

* Let your subject find you.

* Notice when you feel resonance, a sense of recognition. If, when you move away the resonance fades, or if it gets stronger as you approach, you’ll know you’ve found your subject.

* Sit with your subject and see if the resonance continues.

* Don’t try to make a photograph, but let your intuition indicate the right moment to release the shutter.

* If, after you’ve made an exposure, you feel a sense of completion, bow and let go of the subject and your connection to it.

* Otherwise, continue photographing until you feel the process is complete.


 

Notice the emphasis on what you feel.
 

What does resonance feel like for you?

 

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Book Quotes: The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer

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How long is the moment, the ongoing moment?

 
While away on vacation, I read a most interesting and wonderful book on photography, The Ongoing Moment. Author, Geoff Dyer, focuses his writing on well known photographers of history (Evans, Kertesz, Weston, Lange, etc.) and how they brought their unique styles to similar subject matter – hats, hands, benches, roads, barber shops, and more.

In our recent visual journaling workshop, we took note of symbols used in our photographs and what they might say about us. Symbols are subjects that have meaning beyond what they are. They convey universal ideas or beliefs and can have different meanings according to our own beliefs. The cross is a perfect example.

Below are some of my favourite quotes from the book on seeing, metaphors and symbols.
 

On not preconceiving, but seeing ….

 
Robert Frank in his Guggenheim application: “the project I have in mind is one that will shape itself as it proceeds, and is essentially elastic.”

Dorothea Lange: “To know ahead of time what you’re looking for means you’re then only photographing your own preconceptions, which is very limiting.” To her, it was fine to work ‘completely without plan’ and just photograph that to which she instinctively responds.

She also said one of my favourite quotes, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson said that “photography was a way of comprehending.”

Bill Brandt: “Instead of photographing what I saw, I photographed what the camera was seeing.”

Edward Weston: “A photograph is not an interpretation, a biased opinion of what nature should be, but a revelation, an absolute impersonal recognition of the significance of facts.”

What makes (Robert) Frank unique, according to Wim Wenders, is an ability to take pictures out of the corners of his eyes.

Paul Strand: was asked how he chose the things he photographs. “I don’t, he replied. They choose me.”

Photography’s great difficulty lies in the necessary coincidence of the sitter’s revealment, the photographer’s realization, the camera’s readiness. ~ Edward Weston (from The Ongoing Moment)

 

On Metaphors and Symbols ….

 
Dorothea Lange claimed that every photograph was a self-portrait of the photographer.

Diane Arbus (known for photographing “freaks”): “Far from being gratuitous or sensationalist her photographs became metaphors of her own traumatic journey.”

On stairs: Atget often photographed stairs from the bottom, looking up – the stairs serving as metaphors for exhaustive endeavours that lie ahead, or possibilities for other views, other photographs. In Brassai, by contrast, the sense is always of stairs leading down … to a more intimate knowledge of a city… of the truth of a place being found in its basements.

On benches: Kertesz’s photographs seem always to be heading towards or looking forward to death, but it would be quite reasonable to suggest that they are always on the look-out for a bench. And the bench represents a kind of death. A bench is … on the bench: sidelined, condemned to spectate, peripheral.

Hammock by Jack Leigh: The powerful sense of absence derives, obviously, from the empty hammock – but that is the symbol, really of a less tangible absence: the absence of colours which are all the more vividly felt for being in black and white. Perhaps this is why it is an image, simultaneously, of contentment and yearning.

On Doors: The symbolic tradition of the doorway is as the boundary between life and death. The door ajar represents hope.
 

These are just a few of the writings from the book, The Ongoing Moment. Dyer describes the friendships between some of history’s greatest photographers, how they influenced each other, and developed their own styles. If you’re interested in the history of photography and photographers, you’ll enjoy this book.

 

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