Interesting post from Kirk Tuck at “The Visual Science Lab”. I think he’s right and I suspect that I, too, fall into the second camp. He at least has the excuse that as a professional photographer he has to photograph subjects about which he’s not that passionate. I don’t have that excuse. I can take pictures of whatever I want. My problem is that while I’m interested in a lot of things I’m not really passionate about too much. Maybe it’s because I’m British. In my day at least we were not encouraged to be passionate about things – stiff upper lip and all that. The area I’m most interested in is photography, but how do you take pictures of “photography”. As I look back over the pictures I’ve taken over the last year or two I notice that a lot of them are of old things: buildings; objects; technology etc. I’ve been interested in history for a long time so maybe that’s it. I’ll give it a try.

As I get older and read too much I find that we can break down most photographers into two camps. The ones who master their craft in order to photograph the subject of their passion and the ones who get really good at their craft in order to be really good at their craft. To the first group the mastery of technique is a means to an end. The mastery gives them the potential to make images of their chosen subject in a style and a way that is unique to them. These are the people whose work comes to mind in a heart beat. Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon as people photographers. Patrick Demarchalier and Peter Lindbergh as fashion photographers, and Ansel Adams and Mark Klett as Landscape photographers. They pursue their passion. Theyve found their passion. And they explored it relentlessly.The second group are the universal shooters. They can shoot food, shoot a car, shoot a model, shoot a sunset or a sunrise, shoot a factory or a building or someone hanging off an enormously tall tower, or fighter jets or a child lit by a sparkler on a Summer evening. And in every situation they bring a technical expertise to the image that is arguably correct but, because it is largely a generic solution based on satisfying or solving the technical issues of the image it is homogenous and boring. Forgettable.

Technique in search of a subject. | The Visual Science Lab / Kirk Tuck.

Leave a Reply