About Good Notions, Thoughts and Inspiration
Today I remembered that when I was a mid-teen of about 16 years old, I was very keen to discover new things to find inspiration. Over a certain period of time I had discovered and read some insightful, inspiring articles and books which should, when I look backwards, change the course of my life.
At that time I also heard of Steve Jobs in a Youtube Video. In this particular video he described that in his younger years he also had read some books and magazines, among them the famous ,,Science Magazine'' and the so called ,,Whole Earth Catalogue''.
He explained that in one of the articles of the Science Magazine there was an article that described the most efficient animal which covers the longest distance in the most efficient way.
According to this article that animal is the American Condor.
Further the article says, that a mere human being can never be efficient like that, but:
If he rides a bicycle, he gets even more efficient than the condor, his efficiency multiplies.
So Mr. Jobs came to the conclusion and also explained that what the bicycle is for the body, the computers are the bicycles for our mind.
This one quote made a very deep impression on me when I first heard of it.
It is simple and elegant also it has the aspect to multiply ones energy and capability with simple tools, since the human being from the very beginning of his existence on, has always been inventing and refining experience and knowledge to survive and later to overcome and exceed his physical boundaries and limitations by inventing something like the plane and achieving like landing on the moon, the computer seems to be the next step or medium through which we express ourselves and our intellectual capabilities.
At that time I also heard of the famous Apple campaign which showed many popular and leading artists and visionaries like Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi and Pablo Picasso, to name a few among them. The campaigns brilliant but simple slogan was: ,,Think different.''
I was somehow very moved by that.
To come to the topic of photography, there we need a lot of inspiration also.
I am often experiencing that friends or working colleagues of mine showing me some pictures to me that they had taken on their smartphones or cameras. Most of the time, it's their smartphones, and let's keep this a secret between us, but the photos are unfortunately mostly looking dull, because smartphone cameras as they are today in 2020, still don't reach the high quality a simple camera and lens combo does.
Nowadays if I arrive back in Vienna from a trip abroad, it happens that I am often wondering, how many advertisement banners are hanging on the walls of the airport. The most of them is about the latest smartphones. I have been in many airports around the world, but Viennas airport seems to have one of the highest amount of advertisement for smartphones.
I wonder why...
That makes me think about our culture and how we live and consume at the expense of the resources of our nature.
Recently I saw a documentary about how rare earth elements and lithium and other basic ingredients of batteries and of electronic components are mined. They are needed to built the next product cycle generation of our electronic devices, and those base materials are getting extracted or mined from mines and from million year old seas which are of course precious natural water sources in South America.
Because of this unfortunate development the people who are living mainly from agriculture, are suffering from drought, so much that they have no more enough water to water their fields and to provide their animals with enough drinking water.
It seems insane to put a new smartphone or any product on the market year after year when I am thinking of this fact. But why I am talking about all this suddenly?
I feel that in the last few years the development of products and product cycles have maybe reached a new high, because product cycles have become more and more shorter for financial profit reasons. And if we look further, there are more people living in the world than ever before, and everyone is consuming in what form ever, may it be food, or internet streaming and so on.
The airports and public transport systems are getting full of people transiting, and everything seems to reach a limit, because the mass of people cannot be handled efficiently anymore, since the public transport system were not designed to handle this amount of people.
For example I visited Paris last year, and the amount of people who were walking on the streets seem to have tripled since my last when I visited Paris when I was 16 years old. I was shocked.
Along with those challenges we are definitely going to have to meet those problems now in the present and in the future, because there is an increase of stress, anxiety and all this resulting in an increased superficiality in our way to live.
What and how we eat when we don't have time, how and what we consume when it comes to content, may it music, pictures and so on, those aspects seem to become more important than ever in our lives.
When we come to the topic of photography, I think we can see in most of the social networks, how many low quality pictures are superficially post processed and shared, and those images are flooding the internet.
The question arises in most of the people who are merely interested in photography, why they should invest in a 2000 dollar camera, if they can affordably make pictures with a 500 dollar smartphone, since there is no much difference, they say.
I mention all this because I find, that is my personal observation though, that our taste and how we live our life is degrading, ever since everything has to be faster and cheaper and life gets more expensive.
In a world like this, I find inspirational insights and good notions are both of utter importance.
But what does all this have to do with photography?
When a photographer takes a picture he has to decide how much light he has to pass through the lens to the sensor, to get the exposure right, also to achieve a distinctive quality of light which is the expression he seeks for or which is in accordance with his artistic vision.
In short photographing is a conscious decision. It is a decision to take one possibility or one frame from a vast or infinite amount of possibilities or frames from a subject.
Aspects like: Which focal length to use, which aperture and shutter speed to choose and on what you focus, are further important parameters to consider.
The most challenging thing is to know the ,,What'', ,,Why'', and ,,How'', to become clear about all this and to execute all this as efficient/fast as possible. To achieve this one needs time and experience, and of course insight and inspiration. :-)
All this has to be done in a very balanced way. Consciously in every respect so that beauty can happen.
Thanks to computers, and yes I am a Mac user also ;-), the editing and altering of images can be done very fast and efficient also. Both software and hardware of computers are supporting us to mold and manifest our ideas into reality, to make it happen, and both this freedom and ability that are given to us are truly fantastic in my opinion.
All this brings us joy, if we are consciously approaching what we do, that stands in harsh contrast, how the most of us live nowadays in this hectic world I find.
My conclusion is:
I think if we do our best, all we do gets elevated to art, if we find beauty in what we do.
Three great photographers from which I learned a lot through their articles and magazines, are: Jim Richardson, Joel Meyerowitz and Art Wolf.
My first photography book was from Art Wolfe.
In his books, I learned how important it is to lead the viewers eye, and how to compose a picture.
Through reading and experimenting I soon realized which is obvious:
As a photographer you have to isolate the subject you photograph from distractive elements, to make the image look simple.
I further learned that photography is the art of obscuring and revealing light, to achieve guidance of the observer's eye, and to know what is important to make this obvious to the viewer through composition, framing/isolation of the subject.
From Jim Richardson whose pictures are featured in the National Geographic Magazines I got inspired how beautifully colored his pictures are.
I was also amazed from his aerial landscape photographs and pictures taken from the plane.
He gives a simple advice, he says:
,,If you want to take interesting pictures you have to stand in front of interesting things.''
And in this there is real deep meaning...!
To find beauty and inspiration, one has to find the longing to search.
The last person, from which I received inspiration is Joel Meyerowitz.
I saw a very interesting Youtube video from him in which he tells how his career began.
For me the most inspiring photos from him, were photographs taken in the US, when he decided to take a trip through the US shortly after he met and got inspired by the works of Robert Frank who is another legendary photographer.
Mr. Meyerowitz tells, that he felt that his car was like a small camera box for him.
Through the windscreen of his car he saw and framed the landscapes that were constantly changing while he was driving the car.
Also I could not believe in which perfect timing and ingenuity he is able to capture pictures in distinctive moments in seemingly usual everyday situations which got interrupted by an anomal happening. I am very moved how he captures those situations in such a sensitive way, he get's the timing right, and in this there is poesy.
It‘s truly magical how Mr. Meyerowitz seems to know the right timing, and how his pictures exude a Zeitgeist of the particular era when the pictures had been taken also they also happen to have a deeper meaning. For him it seems that his camera is his mind's natural extension and that's wonderful. For him it seems as simple and natural as that to take those wonderful dynamic pictures with its numerous philosophical implications.
If one drives through a country as big as America, and if one has no goal but to look and to take pictures, I think in this openness life happens, and then it‘s like an adventure, that's what I can tell from my experience of my first trip alone through California in 2018.
So to put everything in a nutshell:
If you do whatever you do with beauty, you give meaning to it.
That means: All this is not only applicable for photography alone, but also for life.
If you search for more inspiration, recently I have gathered a recommended books sections on my with some very interesting and inspirational books mainly about photography on my website.
So please have a look here.
With all this in mind, all the best to you,