The Fire of Images: Why I Continue To Take Photos

The Bronze Birds

This is the 2nd post of 5 in a series on photography.

  1. Why I Started To Take Photos
  2. Why I Continue To Take Photos
  3. Why I Think You Should Take Photos
  4. Some Practical Tips
  5. Photography Announcement

I didn’t realise when I first began taking photos, uploading them onto Flickr and sharing them on this blog, that I would revolutionize the way I think of photographic images.

We all perceive things differently: the way I view, process and analyse the sights that greet me daily are necessarily different from the way you would if faced with the exact same sights, and vice versa. What I discovered was, that by sharing my photos, I was, in fact, sharing something far more personal, something unique to me – I was sharing my perspective.

Now, I think it may be important here to make a confession – the images that I share with you here have almost all undergone a small amount of editing: cropping, zooming, straightening, alterations in brightness, contrast, saturation, exposure and sharpness. I am not interested in trying to attain some impossible ideal of an ‘accurate’ representation, whatever that may be – I want to capture the world the way I see it.

Do you find sometimes that when you take a photograph of something really beautiful: a brilliant bloom, an entrancing waterfall, or a radiant sunset perhaps, and you see the result, you’re disappointed? That for some reason, it doesn’t look the way you saw it when you chose to focus your lens and photograph it, thus preserving it forever as a visual memory. I consider the process of editing to be an extension of the creative process that I undertake, in order to portray a scene the way that I originally perceived it.

I’ll explain a bit more about the editing process in part 4, but for now I just want to encourage you to start thinking about the images that you capture and share as invitations. Because, when you visit Lives Less Ordinary, you encounter many images and every one of them is an invitation; they are an invitation to see the world through my eyes, to engage with what I believe to be special and worthy of sharing.

They are an invitation to connect through a sharing of perspective.

Is this the way you think of your photographs? As invitations? As windows on another’s perspective? Also, do you edit your photos? What are your thoughts on the editing process? Please feel free to ask any questions that you have about editing, and I’ll do my best to integrate them into the practical tips post scheduled for Thursday.

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May 20, 2008. Photography.

18 Comments

  1. Rosa Say replied:

    Ah Amy, I do love this notion of a photograph as an invitation to share one’s perspective!

    As you know, I am in the very early stages of learning about taking digital photos, and you have just given me such a wonderful gift with this invitation to take creative license versus obsessing on photographic technique. Who knows, I just may start to embrace some fuzziness now and then… (a shaky hand? Oh no, that was on purpose!)

  2. Susan Brown replied:

    Interesting, I was just thinking that I need to start carrying my camera with me to capture the seemingly ordinary events that I experience each day. Being a painter, I’ve always considered this as the primary way of expressing myself. The concept of photography you’ve presented helps me reevaluate my view.
    Thanks so much,
    Susan

  3. Celticangel replied:

    I do edit my photos. In fact, I just learned a new skill a couple of days ago. (My husband is very skilled with Photoshop, and he taught me something new.) For me, photography is providing something of visual interest. That could include and interesting bit of landscape or merely a cute cat.

    I love the window into your perspective that you have provided to us, especially since I love Scotland so much.

    Thanks for the photos.

  4. Joanna Young replied:

    Fascinating Amy

    “They are an invitation to connect through a sharing of perspective.”

    I know I enjoy your pictures because I do feel like I’m getting the chance to see the world through your eyes (and you have a fascinating way of seeing things). And I do always have the feeling that you’re inviting me in 🙂

    But I’ve never thought of my own pictures like that, maybe because, before I put them on flickr I never really thought about sharing them.

    I guess my intention has been mainly either to capture a moment or a memory, or to try and catch some of the essence of something extraordinarily beautiful that I’ve seen. More like gratitude than anything, an expression of gratitude. And when I see the picture again it reminds me of that deep sense of wonder (so I get a double hit!)

    I’ve never fussed too much about the quality, because the subject matter is enough (mainly 100s of pictures of Skye and Hebridean islands!), but I would like to be able to do close ups… moorland flowers being one of my favourite things.

    Joanna

    PS I’ve just had another idea. Oh it’s a good one. Will mull it over for a while before I share it with you though…

  5. Jokerine replied:

    I used to just take my pictures as they were, with maybe a little bit of cropping. But recently on the advice of a random photographer I met I reset some things on my camera and now I adjust the pictures to reflect my intention and memory. I also got a macro lens, which I use almost exclusively now, also for awesome portraits.

    So I guess I do view my pictures as telling something about myself as well as the subject. I need to make sure not to get too precious about my pictures though.

  6. Kacey replied:

    What a wonderful line “I am not interested in trying to attain some impossible ideal of an ‘accurate’ representation, whatever that may be – I want to capture the world the way I see it.” And “an invitation to connect through a sharing of perspective”. I think you’ve nailed my thoughts on why I post my pics on my blog.

    Yes, I do post process my photos. A little or a lot, depending on what I’m trying to say with them.

  7. Bo replied:

    I process my photos, lightly though, unless I am going for something I call “art-y” which feast on design more…

    But I think the sharing is the key. I see a part of the world I will never be able to visit and marvel at both the differences and the likenesses. It adds so much dimension. And I want to likewise share my world – which by many comparisons is nothing fancy, nothing spectacular. But it is mine and so it is VERY important to me. And it’s another way to connect – person to person.

  8. LindaH replied:

    I like the idea of the invitation. Flickr is great for sharing what works but sometimes some of the critiques can be unkind to the inexperienced.
    The purist in me says I should only edit to correct obvious flaws. I’d be useless if I couldn’t straighten the horizon. I’m interested in the idea of using editing to get nearer to my vision of what I saw though. Maybe I’d like to experiment with that. I don’t have photoshop, what about online editors?

  9. Teacher Girl replied:

    Hi Amy!

    This evening I was working on a little post called “Postcards I Wish I Had Sent” when I read your post about continuing to take photos. When I read your line, “They are an invitation to connect through a sharing of perspective” (yummmm!) I felt like all of the shiny bits of the universe were conspiring to help me. I included your quote and a link to LLO in my post. Here you are: http://teachermeetsworld.blogspot.com/

    Thanks for the very good words about photography!

  10. amypalko replied:

    I think that’s absolutely key to what I’m saying here, Rosa – “to take creative license versus obsessing on photographic technique” gives us the freedom to experiment, the freedom to play and the freedom to make happy accidents 🙂

    Oh, I’m so glad, Susan. I’m posting more on what I think you can get out of taking your camera with you every where, as I do think that it can have a dramatic effect upon one’s personal creativity. I’ll be interested to see what you make of it, as an artist whose primary expression is through the medium of paint.

    I really enjoy the editing process, Celtic Angel. I feel as though it is an extension of the creative process of creating an image, of creating that ‘visual interest’. I’m glad you enjoy my photos of Scotland 🙂

    I think of sharing my photos as the next logical step for my photographs, Joanna. I suppose I think that I get so much from them that I want to be able to put them out there for others to enjoy too. I look forward to hearing more of your idea 🙂

    I think choosing to reflect your memory and intention is a really positive move, Jokerine. It can be hard not being too precious about them though, can’t it?

    It sounds as though you have a similar approach to photography and post-production as I, Kacey. It all depends upon what you want to convey through your image, doesn’t it?

    You’ve absolutely nailed it, Bo. That’s precisely how I feel about sharing my photos, and about engaging with the photos of others. It gives us that connection 🙂

    There are online editors, LindaH, which I’m going to look at on Thursday. I’m afraid you’re quite right about Flickr – some of the comments left can contain rather cutting critiques. It’s so important to nurture our budding creativity, isn’t it?

    Oh, I’m so glad you liked it, Teacher Girl. I’m honoured that you chose to quote me in your post 🙂

  11. 13. What I learned about photography this week — Lilahpops :: Plunging into Photography replied:

    […] The Fire of Images: Why I Continue To Take Photos […]

  12. Darren Daz Cox replied:

    It’s not ‘cheating’ to edit your photographs! in fact we expect them to be polished and cropped to perfection.We aren’t looking for a scientific documentary as much as a romantic getaway.

    Editing your photos is another step in the creative process.

  13. travelerstales replied:

    Thank you! I have been trying to make a photography business work for a few years now and it just hasn’t been a happening thing. Everybody loves my work but nobody ever buys much. I’ve been kind of burnt on photography for a little while now because it just wasn’t as much fun. I’ve been kind of reformulating the way I viewed what used to be a passion and trying to find a way to get it back and you just gave me some real wisdom. It’s the sharing of how I see the world that was the passion, not trying to capture images that other people would like, or even understand. I think there will start being a whole lot more images on my blog! Thank you again.

  14. amypalko replied:

    Well, if you came look for a bit of escapism, Daz, you came to the right place! Btw, I found out a bit about your castle. I’ll be emailing you about it shortly!

    Oh, I’m so glad my words have helped you, Travelerstales! I do think you’re onto something very important – it is when we tap into our positive intentions and perform according to our passions and our values that we can begin to become successful. I wish you the very best of luck with your business and with regaining your love for photography.

  15. The Fire Of Images - Why I Started Taking Photos « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] Why I Continue To Take Photos […]

  16. The Fire of Images: An Announcement « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] Why I Continue To Take Photos […]

  17. The Fire of Images: Why I Think You Should Take Photos « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] Why I Continue To Take Photos […]

  18. The Fire of Images - Some Practical Tips « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] Why I Continue To Take Photos […]

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