Musings on Photography


Posted in motivation by Paul Butzi on October 25, 2009


Tim Parkin comments on my trend toward spending less time on processing each image:

I’d rather have a back catalogue of a small number of good images than a huge archive of images. I suppose if I post process 8 images a month it’s a pretty good output. This still means about 100 images per year or 5 books per decade! How many pictures do you want to be remembered for? (r.e. Opportunity cost – I’d rather spend ten times as long on one composition than take ten versions of it. Although I know I’ll get it wrong sometimes, at least when I get it right I know I will have fine tuned it all I can)

There was a time where I really wanted to get my work out there, really wanted to get shows, really wanted to succeed as a photographer. In short, I thought hard about things like how many pictures I wanted to be remembered for.

I’ve come to the conclusion that if there’s value to the photography I do, it’s in the doing, and not in the having done. I think if there’s no value that I experience in the making of the photographs, it’s very likely that the photographs have no value at all, and in fact probably have negative value since I’ll have tied up resources to make things like cameras, paper, lenses and so on, and I’ll have used up energy to make the photos.

The simple fact is that not only is it unlikely I’ll be remembered for any photos I’ve made, it’s exceedingly unlikely I’ll be remembered at all much beyond the span of my life. Or, to put it in a more positive way, some people would like to achieve immortality by doing things for which they’ll be remembered. I’d prefer to achieve immortality by not dying.

Perhaps because of this view, I’ve come to question the idea that it’s not worth spending vast quantities of time tweaking image unless the part of the process you’re enjoying is tweaking the images.

My attitudes on such things swing back and forth. No doubt sometime in the future I’ll be back to obsessively dodging, burning, and the like.

One Response

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  1. Tim Parkin said, on October 26, 2009 at 2:57 am

    Thanks for the in depth reply – I should point out that the comment wasn’t meant as a criticism of any particular approach but I hoped that the answer to my question could inform how long to spend doing what.

    I particularly enjoy being out looking for photographs and also the process of taking a photograph from conception to finished article. Because of this, I tend to take less pictures and am trying to hone that journey.

    I’m only just on the start of my photographic journey as a whole and I might change my mind but your answer does suggest that you just spend the time doing the bit you enjoy (which seem to be the taking of pictures, hence minimising the post processing of pictures because it’s not the bit you enjoy). Does that make sense?

    p.s. you should probably add a ‘not’ in the next to last para.

    p.p.s. I have no illusions of being remembered after I’m dead. I’d just like to be recollected occasionally whilst I’m alive 🙂

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