light.jpg

Close Your Eyes

Before we get into what I wanted to talk about here today I’d like you to take a moment, close your eyes, and imagine a photograph. What came to mind? Was it a snapshot of your significant other? A beautiful landscape? A classic work of art? Maybe you invented one in your mind, an image never seen outside of your imagination. Now, consider being the photographer behind the camera as the photo was taken, even if you were the one who took the photo. Can you imagine the smell of the air? The sound of the environment around you? The emotion felt as what lay in front of the lens transpired?

This is something that makes photography unique among other forms of art. These are not just arbitrary collections of light or pixels, photographs are alive. They are living breathing creations. Every snap of a shutter is another wormhole opening that bridges the past and the present. They collect memories, preseve them and hold the potential energy to thrust them back into your awareness. Even when they are not your own. A great photograph can take you anywhere, it can transform you. Of course, that is, if you let it.

Trouble is that we are currently drowning in imagery. The potential of any one image is being diluted with over exposure. I bet that when you closed your eyes, your mind didn’t jump to one, single photograph but leapt among a dozen different images, bits of each colliding into the next. Our minds move so quickly through an endless mental back catalogue of imagery that it can be hard to focus on any one thing for more than a split second.

It’s why you don’t see me posting a ton of images here or on Flickr. Being more mindful of what I choose to share allows them to have more of an opportunity to be seen, absorbed, and with any luck, remembered. Mental space is a precious thing these days and we can use all the breathing room we can get.

In light of this perspective on the value of any given image I have, in the past year or two, found myself shooting less than I once had. While out taking photos of something I won’t fire off a few dozen shots of the same scene. I find myself being more selective of when I trip the shutter. It has lead me to to a place where I feel more focused and confident in the process of shooting. At one point in the past year I lost my one lager capacity compact flash card and rather than go out and replace it with another I decided to stick with the few 2Gb cards that I have around. These give me around 120 shots per card and I rarely switch out cards unless I am traveling and shooting more often.

I find that in limiting the potential amount of images I allow myself to capture I am able to drive myself into a mental space that puts a greater importance on the things I do choose to capture. It puts me more in the moment rather than constantly glued to the LCD display of my 5D. While this comes after years of constant shooting and learning, I think both beginners and pros alike can benefit from a few creative restrictions.

Photography is a lifestyle as much as it is a profession. The images you create are only as good as the places you allow yourself to explore or the situations you place yourself in, so rather than let photography control your desires, let your desires and passion drive your photography.

Point being is that I firmly believe that to get great photos that will leave a lasting impact you must live your life to its fullest. Don’t question yourself too much, just stay active, follow your instincts and passion, and surround yourself with things that inspire you. Take chances! Nothing ever happens just by sitting around. Sometimes to discover these things you have to go out into the world and find them.

This is something I realized a few years back when I started to shoot film again. I discovered that my favorite personal work was that which I left a little piece of myself in. Sometimes it may be an intimate moment, other times it could be a place or situation not typically thought of as deserving of a photograph. Years of tailoring my shooting and subject choices for what I thought others would like grew tiresome. Letting myself venture beyond my comfort zone helped me discover that I did in fact have a voice while behind the lens and it’s been a joy to explore the implications of this. Even while out shooting at my favorite lake or while on a job site, I look for things that speak to me. I compose the shots I take first in an obvious way, then I shift my perspective to look for that one magic spot where I feel the subject resonate with my point of view. A good example of this would be the seemingly out of focus image posted a few weeks ago.

Life as a photographer should be an open book. There should be no dividing line between where your day to day life begins and your photography ends. Share with the rest of us what makes you you. When I see an image I always search for its reason for existing as much as its technical achievements. No matter how great an image may be technically, it won’t leave a mark if it lacks a soul.

This is one of the most important lessons learned while developing my skills as a photographer which, of course, is never ending. As with every great photogrpher in the medium’s short history you never really stop learning, it’s beautiful evolution and it should be embraced. So, that said, get out there, camera in hand, and live.

Comments

  1. Scott - November 14, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    This is great John. It’s something I definitely struggle with too. Sharing the story, without diluting the experience. The hardest part is when one shot doesn’t do it. How many does and how many is too many?

  2. carlos - November 14, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Wonderful lesson for me,…………… I just watched a video about photography, I recommended this to every one out there “Henri Cartier-Bresson:The Impassioned Eye” he says: “for me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to “give a meaning” to the world, one has to feel involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry. It is by economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression.”
    thanks J.

Leave A Reply

To whom it may concern,

IMAGES FOUND WITHIN FIFTYFOOTSHADOWS.NET ARE ©JOHN CAREY AND MAY NOT BE USED FOR ANY COMMERCIAL USE WITHOUT PERMISSION. 

DO:

• Enjoy the images! It’s a labor of love, thanks for your support!
• Share fiftyfootshadows.net with friends.
• Send me a quick mail if you are interested in using an image for commercial or personal use other than wallpaper.

DON’T:

• Post desktops elsewhere online.
• Share links directly to images.
• Pass them around in mass.
• Make prints.
• Use images for web banners or graphics. (send a quick email to ask, I’m pretty easy going about this with permission.)
• Use them in commercial work.

If you help me out with these I will be able to keep doing what I love to do. Thanks again, really, for your support and understanding. -J

——

By downloading any content from fiftyfootshadows.net you agree to the following terms:

All of the images contained within this website, fiftyfootshadows.net, are property of, John Carey unless otherwise posted. The images are distributed as freeware but they are available for personal use only on your personal computer, tablet, or smartphone as your wallpaper image. Any use of these images for any purpose other than this is a violation of these terms and anyone found using said images will be asked to either compensate the creator for doing so or be asked to stop using them immediately.

I ask that you refrain from using any images found on fiftyfootshadows.net to create physically printed material of any kind. This includes posters, photographic prints, fliers, etc. Under no circumstances may you make a physical reproduction without written permission.

These rules also apply for any artwork or imagery submitted and shown within this site which was created by an artist aside from myself. Any images submitted and shared as wallpapers are the property of the artist who created them and in the same manner as my images, you are asked to receive permission before using them in any way aside from their intended use. Any use of these images outside of for your own personal use as a desktop wallpaper image is prohibited without permission from the author of the image. Commercial licensing is available upon request. Please write with any inquiries.

When sharing images via your personal blogs I kindly ask that you link back directly to either the post the image was taken from or the base of the website at www.fiftyfootshadows.net and give a credit to www.fiftyfootshadows.net. Do not re-post full resolution desktop images anywhere without permission. If you would like to use an image for your blog background or something of the sort simply write to ask first. Support the artwork you admire! Also, it is greatly appreciated if you do NOT link directly to the zip files. This is more or less the same as re-posting them as it circumvents the tiny bit of support I ask of you which is to simply link back to the original post for others to enjoy the site.

It’s not fair to artists if you do not credit their work and link back to the original content creator. It is theft plain and simple and blogs that attempt to somehow be mysterious by not giving credit to the creators are simply hurting the artistic community as a whole. If you love it so much then please, support it! The artistic community on the Internet is based on trust. Without trust then what do we have? are you going to be one of the responsible users out there or will you be among the bottom feeders, stealing content and passing it off as your own to make a quick buck in ad sales.

Use your best judgement and we will get along just fine.

Thank you for your understanding and support!

John Carey (curator, owner)

fiftyfootshadows.net

fiftyfootshadows@gmail.com