Living Vicariously As A Peripatetic Shutterbug

{ More musings from the Cantankerous Old Mule }

Photography. Perfection, or passion and soul?

Over the last week I’ve had several conversations about what makes for “good” photography.

Should we, as regular photographers, be striving for the perfectly-composed, perfectly-lit, perfectly-in-focus (and all those other things we are taught are important) shots? Or is there something else, that certain je ne sais quoi? A balance of both, perhaps?

Honestly, I’ve started feeling the pressure to be the perfect photographer – to live up to certain global standards. I think it started when I worked for Nikon here in South Africa, and I knew that I wasn’t as technically adroit as some of the “pros”. Now, when I don’t get it quite right I feel judged … but I know that I’m actually the one doing most of the judging!

My nephew recently told me how much he enjoyed my photos but that I really should be doing more to get followers on Instagram. “You’re under-appreciated,” he told me. “More people should be liking your photos.” But at the same time, I’ve seen some photographers, whose work I really enjoyed, and who were producing fresh, exciting photos, who have become repetitious and mawkish. Don’t even get me started on typical family photo shoots or wedding photography. It rates up there with what I felt before shooting my nephew and his girlfriend.

Over the last year I found myself concentrating so much on the technical side of my photos – on keeping perfectly-straight horizons, eyes in focus, perfect depth of field, the right angles etc. – that my photos started to lack soul.  Not all the time, mind you, but enough to recognise it. As a result, a few months ago I started leaving my Nikon at home, and tried to have more fun with my photos – especially where it comes to my Instagram pics. I’ve started caring less about what other photographers think about my photos. I want to create photos that tell a story, incite emotion in my readers and, most of all, that I enjoy taking and looking at. I’ve tried shooting from different, weird angles and I don’t worry as much if the photos aren’t pin-sharp.

I admit it, some of the pics will mean more to me than they will to you – because I remember what was going on around me before and after a particular photo was shot. I laugh every time I look at one particular photo below. I hope you will find pleasure in several.

If you’ve come this far and have decided to continue, here are a few of my Instagram pics from December and January. What emotions did they evoke in you, if any? Happiness, laughter, sadness, pity, disgust? What do you think: should I continue, with my handful of followers and likes, or just cut my losses and turn to macrame or stamp collecting?

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5 comments on “Photography. Perfection, or passion and soul?

  1. Bianca
    February 3, 2015

    Of course you should continue Uncle Rob!

  2. Dave
    February 3, 2015

    What sublime use of angles – I am immediately a fan!

  3. Kim
    February 3, 2015

    Wow, so many great shots. And so many lovely subjects. What emotions do they evoke? Jealousy, envy – just kidding! Keep taking photos – you can come share some tips with me. I tirelessly troop after the kids and pets around here like a photographer stalker terrorist and only get the occasional outstanding pic. But I haven’t quit yet! Neither can you. (But if you do, I want your camera and especially the 70-200mm) 😉

  4. Geraldine
    February 4, 2015

    We love your pics, Robin and it’s especially handy having such a talented photographer in the family! I especially love some of the more offbeat shots lately … and I’m sure the one that makes you laugh is the dog one, which nearly crippled the poor canine in getting that perfectly quirky shot! Shame, the lengths you go to …!

  5. LaBelleza
    February 5, 2015

    Did you do the macrame in the last photo? :-0
    Love to see the world from your angle..so no..keep going

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