Photography; A Compelling Subject

Photography; A Compelling Subject

As soon as a ray of light bounces off a subject and hits your camera, compulsion starts. It’ll either be you doing it or you suffering it.

When you first start out with photography, it’s all new. You want to do everything – there’s a widespread compulsion to take your camera everywhere and shoot anything that passes in front of it. This is like getting a .22 rifle when you’re 14 years old, except the street lights in your town will suffer less from the camera.

Eventually the overall pressure starts to coalesce and become more intense in certain areas. You’ll find that you like taking pictures of surfing and the ocean…so you’ll soon equip yourself with a big telephoto lens, a tripod, a wetsuit, and a monthly ticket to Margaret River. You will make both bad art, great art, and the occasional nuisance of yourself…but you need not be ashamed of that. Other newbies in other fields will do the same as they respond to their own compulsions.

As you get better, you will find that there are times when you start to do the compelling. If you learn portraiture you’ll find you are directing your subjects in subtle ways ( I find a sharp pin on a stick most useful ). You’ll get people to move cars and turn on lights for architectural work – they’ll not know why, but you will, and the results will be better. The best of the emerging shooters will learn how to get cooperation without evincing arrogance. The ones who do not figure this out will get fragged.

If you do rise to the top of your field ( and remember that when your head rises above the parapet machine gunners put their sandwiches down and become interested in you ) you can compel employment as well as cooperation. An established body of results is a fine platform from which to deal with clients and judges. The compulsion almost always flows from you to them.

Finally…don’t be surprised if there are days when there is no pressure from any direction. When no-one wants you to shoot, there’s nothing to shoot, and you don’t want to shoot anyway. Be honest with yourself when this happens – go read a book or weed the garden. Eventually the doldrums pass and the creative breeze blows from some quarter. Then you can fill a sail and glide again.

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