We talked earlier about “the rules of photography” on the blog and I think I have made my point that I like to bend the “rules”. Or as some of you have pointed out, there are no rules, only conventions that we use when we make our pictures. Because as viewers, we tend to like pictures that follow these comfortable conventions. I agree we should see use these conventions as a starting point to know what we, as viewers prefer and what provokes a reaction in us. I think we need to know these “rules” even more in this age of social media because these “rules” decide what is a “good” or likable picture on social media platforms like flickr, Instagram, Facebook and so on. The photographs that we see and “love” on social media are those that in most cases are following these “rules” or the conventions of a “good” picture because those are the pictures that most people will like and that the algorithm that “controls” the social media flood shows us more pictures of what people like, so what we get is more and more pictures that are “the same”. And that is all fine isn’t it?
Yes, its fine, but I don’t think it will help us to grow as photographers or viewers. If we want to grow beyond the comfortable, we need to get other perspectives, perspectives that social media probably won’t give us because of its construction. I think we need different channels for inspiration, at least if our goal is to grow as photographers. We need to get inspiration and learn from different kinds of art, different kinds of photography, books, curated art that we see in galleries or museums, books and we also need to look outside these “rules” and these conventions to see what is possible. We need to be aware of those conventions that the algorithms in social media have a “taste” for, so we can decide for ourselves what is a “good picture”.
From my point of view, we need have knowledge of the conventions first and secondly try to bend these conventions (or these “rules”) in ways we want. When we can do that, it will make it possible for us to grow as viewers and photographers. We need to experiment and be aware of that by experimenting within the confines of social media it will be like experimenting in a headwind because the lack of “likes” or views will be discouraging.
I don’t think a good photograph is measured by the numbers of “likes” or “views”, but on your vision of what a good photograph is and how you communicated that to the viewer. It can be when you get all the technical details rights, or when the story works, or when you are outdoors and you get the perfect light. To know what you think is a good photograph, you have to experiment, or at least I think I need to do that. All of this reflection has made me decide that one of my new years resolutions should be to do even more experimentation. I need to explore further the possibilities of toy-photography, try new motives (that will be hard), try to use toys beyond plastic ones, try to work more in the studio with controlled light, work more with the scenes and so on.
I want to do more experimentation! And I really hope you want to join me on this journey.