What Makes a Good Photograph? (part II)
Are you still reading me? Brave! It means that you’re up to do more interesting photographs then.
This is the part II of “What Makes a Good Photograph?“.
Photography is all about details.
Sometimes we do a shooting session and we don’t know how to wait for the rapture. So we keep capturing. Even more now with digital cameras that you can shoot 200 times the same thing. On this, I’m still very “analogue”: I wait for the rapture without being clicking all the time. Then I click 3 or 4 times.
“How can we be creative?“, I was asked several times, including yesterday. For you to be creative, you need to discipline yourself. You need practice, if you’re not born creative already. Practice on watching details. Practice on twisting everything you see. Practicing on day dreaming. Ask yourself and keep asking. And if?… try all the possible combinations. Try. Practice trying. Dare to put your feelings out. Your honest thoughts. Don’t follow the pack. Get out from your comfort zone. Make the earthy dirty roots as beautiful as the flower itself. Change your angles. Run way from the stereotypes. Put yourself upside down. Try different approaches. Forget the others opinions. Follow yourself. And practice, practice daily. Twist and flip everything: your mind, your camera, the landscape, whatever you can, just flip and twist. And dance with it. Play. Make it funny for you. Enjoy it. Dare. And be Honest. But always practicing. Daily. Daring to be different, to be yourself.
And how can I turn an uninteresting object into an interesting photograph of it? Go for the subject: the subject is the message, and when you’re creating of starting a dialogue, you need to be interesting enough to keep the viewer or the listener interested in it. Look at the uninteresting object and play with it, think about the meaning, look at the shadows created by the light, give it a completely different and unusual task. Change its environment. Its application. Make the subject keep the viewer to look at it twice to understand it. To understand the meaning of it, instead of just looking to the uninteresting object and change the page. Change the point of view, the angle, the light, the size of it.
See what I did one afternoon with just a piece of wire, 3 chestnuts and salt: “WiredScapes“.
I challenge you to do an exercise with uninteresting objects that you have at home: a thread, a staple and a piece of printing paper. You can do an uninteresting photo of the thread and the staple over the white paper… or you can be creative and play with the light, create a sculpture, an installation, different shades, different angles… create different messages. Try it. Try to do 7 completely different approaches to the same objects. And see the result.
Check for example the work of Chema Madoz, and how he plays with different Uninteresting daily objects creating interesting subjects: A drop falling over a spoon, that is not a drop but the handling of a fork…
You have no excuse to not be creative. if you’re not creative it’s because you don’t pay attention to your surroundings, to the details of your daily life.
I’m sure that when you lay down on the grass looking to the cloudy sky you saw already different animals created by the clouds’ shapes… don’t deny: we ALL did it, once or twice, no matter in which age. You were letting yourself being creative. Why not now as photographer? Go chase the clouds! Create new shapes in your surroundings. Is your wall painting start falling? Look at the spots and imagine countries there. Play with your room’s lamps and lights. With the shapes of your body. Create impossible combinations: Shoot your own mind! And if it’s empty: great! It means that you have plenty of space there to fill with whatever you want.
Let me be a bit annoying and repetitive now: before anything else, be sure that you know your toy, all the techniques, all you need to know. After that, you’ll be able to be creative.
Be different. Differentness is the most wonderful thing in humanity. Each one has its own different ADN. Each one of us is unique. Use this differentness and uniqueness. Create something interesting, be yourself in the whole process. Above all, interestingness rhymes with differentness and uniqueness. Give to your subconscious the pleasure of creating new things. Creating your new self. Being more aware, more awaken, paying more attention to the wonderful details of life. And share the interestingness.
Now, forget the obvious. Obvious is telling someone next to you that is raining; when it’s obvious that he knows it’s raining while you’re sitting down at a bench in the garden. Instead of shooting the rain, shoot the dry space between the rains. Show something that the other person is not expecting, or show something that the other person is somehow not willing to see, as it can be out of his sight.
A few years ago I travelled with few good friends of mine to Morocco. All of them were freshly enthusiastic with photography, each one with new pocket cams, analogue or even better digital ones. The gear here doesn’t matter though. The fact was that I was the only professional photographer there in the group and the only one who didn’t take any gear. I wanted to feel the culture, not to shoot it. Besides, I knew that they would carry theirs, so if for some reason I wanted to play a bit, I could use their cameras. The fact was that we spent an amazing week there and I didn’t take a single photo. However, when we went back home, a week later we met again for a projection of the photographs that each one took there. You can’t imagine my surprise.
Once again: my aim was to be with them and feel the culture in a sociological way, as I was the one who already knew the country.
When we met a week later, I realised watching all the photos, that each one of us travelled to a different place, being all together all the time. How come was that possible? My aim was sociological, but each one of us is different, with different aims, different minds and different passions. One of them was more technical, urban, geek, the one who never gets out of his office/computer… so to compensate, he did landscapes. Landscapes that I didn’t remember to go by. The other one shot portraits, brought the most wonderful faces and their lives within. Other shots corners, those lost corners with great colours, corners in the markets that only her could see. She works as shop/windows designer, so she was focused on compositions. The other one was amazed with the light, so she brought the most wonderful contrasts of chiaroscuro. With or without silhouettes of people. Finally, the last one spent the time taking photos of us all in different curious situations.
This to say, that no matter if we’re looking at the same object, we’ll see it in different ways, finding each one of us a different subject, because each one of us has a different past, different memories that can be associated with the same object, or smell, or shape. Each one can have a different interpretation to the same thing:
Each one can get a different subject from the same object.
Now, go shoot!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments box.
Feb, 2013 –
Preview and Purchase now:
“The Sacred Book of G” is a stream of consciousness, a thought provoking intimate journal written byGonzalo Bénard. After 3 days of brain death he reborn with a deep loss of memory. He reborn without any sense of his past — of his own roots — of his own self. Before that he’d spent his time creating defences to disguise his autism. He had lost it too. New born G had no memory and no defences.
“I, Energy” is a book on Cosmic Consciousness, Quantum Physics and Old Shamanism written by Gonzalo Bénard who not only lived in Himalayas with shamans and in a Buddhist monastery but also in the Western Sahara with old shamans. A guide on healing and transcendental meditation and how you can master your own mind, leading yourself the collective consciousness.
Gonzalo Bénard is a lecturer, author, tutor of autistic teenagers, and a visual artist.His photography has been part of the annual programs of several universities around the world, mainly about the seriesOneness, Nudes and B Shot by a Stranger, and are in several private and public art collections such as Museum of Serralves, Cultural Centre of Cascais or Sir Elton John’s.
His photographs are also being used in Hollywood productions and TV series and you can see his work of photography at his webpage.
Follow @GBenard on twitter for daily updates.
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