Softness and peace in photography

The final moments of sunset diffract up and through the narrow conjunction of two Arctic mountains, reflecting as a thin line across King Oscar Fjord, and peace descends over the landscape.

I wanted to expand a little on a comment I left on Google+ in response to David Bowden and Max Huijgen about the peculiar way this vast internet has very little space.

There are many excellent highly saturated photographs on Google+, 500px, Flickr, 1x and other sites. There are many excellent high-dynamic range photographs, particularly in architecture where the form is being celebrated over the presence. There are many ultra-contrasty monochrome images. They are all well composed, they are well produced, they are visually striking and attention grabbing. They aren’t always loud but they are filled; from start to end, they sing proudly. Some of my images aim in the same direction.

The problem I have, is that they become pop songs. Omnipresent, predictably perfect, histogram and colour lined up just perfectly so there’s no gaps, no discontinuity. Pop is fine, but sometimes you need discord; sometimes you need silence, a place to reflect, a place with rough edges and broken clarity (I do NOT mean Instagram filters!).

But this is just conjecture. What really saddens me is that in most cases, our own eyes should be THE best experience. A photograph should stun you enough to visit a wonderful area of our planet, and when you get there, you should feel the thrill of experiencing such beauty for yourself – you should feel and see more than the photograph. Instead there’s the risk that you’ll feel Petra isn’t pink as you saw on the internet, or the Taj Mahal isn’t quite as sharp, or that cheetah that just TORE ACROSS THE PLAIN AFTER AN IMPALA IN AN EFFORT TO KEEP ITSELF ALIVE was sadly a bit further away than the shots you saw online.

Careful photographs can conjure up dreams. They are suggestive, not expressive; they prompt your imagination to do more work, they take you there but they conceal the best parts. They say, “I need to see more of this” rather than “I have seen the best of this”.

The world is not a product to be shot in a studio environment. It is a world of stories, with all the dirt, imperfections, subtleties and yes, sometimes quiet and silent desaturated realism. There is room for all of us, and this is a plea for you to tell your story because it isn’t perfectly produced. Whisk me away into a moment, not a product.

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