The Art of Photography and Photography as Art

2015 – Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 10-20mm

This blog post is a milestone of sorts, it marks my five hundredth blog post.  It began on a sad note, with a photo from my maternal grandmother’s funeral, it has been more of a photo journey rather than a photo blog, more about myself and the photos than about the photos themselves I suppose, so it’s rather like a journal…almost… of sorts.

On this journey I’ve learnt a lot, with still much more to learn, I’ve met many other people with a passion for photography, and many who love to look at beautiful imagery.

I have learnt that there is a difference between the Art of Photography and Photography as Art, and I believe that it is a realization that comes to most of us who pursue it with an aim for creating “art”.

2010 – Canon T1i, Sigma 18-270mm

It sounds presumptuous even to my own ears to refer to anything that I produce with the camera as “art”, but people like my friend Nikhil would thump me behind the head for even saying that.  Not everything I take can be considered as art, so I humbly submit that I have a few that may be taken into consideration by those who are more knowledgeable than myself and more in-tune with the art world to be judged and pronounced as art.

Nikhil would also tell me that I have had work exhibited once at the National Gallery of Art (Castellani House) and have also been among the finalists in two of the recent Guyana Visual Arts Competitions, so I can’t get away with trying to play modest about being called an “artist”.

2011 – Canon Rebel T1i – Tamron 18-270mm

I began as most of us probably did with learning to use the camera and just snapping away at anything and everything that caught my eye.

After a while it began to be more important to learn and understand the art of photography, to understand how light plays an important part, where paying attention to composition results in a much better photo of the same subject.  The art of photography is to know your camera (whether it’s a mobile device such as cellphones or a larger DSLR) to learn what it can and cannot do, and to know how to use it to accomplish what you want.  Like any craftsman worth his salt, the art of the craft is the union of the person and the tools at hand.

It is good to learn different techniques, different approaches, different styles; that can be part of your arsenal, but it need not define the photograph you take.

2012 – Canon T1i, Tamron 18-270mm

The photograph is an extension of your self, it is a product of your own thoughts and skills, when the photograph stops being just a snapshot and becomes an expression of an idea, a concept, more than just a moment frozen in time, then it is possible that you have created a piece of art.

Photography as Art has to be more than just a pretty photo of a pretty scene or even a technically perfect photo of a dilapidated house, for a photograph to be Art it should have soul, it should convey an idea, elicit a reaction from the viewer, it has to be seen, talked about, appreciated or ridiculed even.

2013 – Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 18-270mm

Not many of us in Guyana can successfully claim to be original in our photographs, most of it has been done before and by better artists than ourselves, Photography as an Art has to overcome the fact that everyone now has access to a device that captures images, and in the maelstrom of images swirling around the internet we have to produce a piece that stands out, that makes people stop and look, but also to have them remember it afterwards, to recall it and speak about it.

Art is subjective, that’s basically saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it is not enough for the creator of the piece to want it to be art, the viewer has to appreciate the piece, not necessarily from the perspective of the creator but from how it affects them.

2014 – Canon EOS 6D, Canon 24-105mm

All the images in this post are “new to you”, they are from the six years than span this blog, 2010 to 2015, one from each calendar year.  I went through the files looking for images that I have overlooked, or just not processed,  not looking for any subject in particular, but for images I think worth processing, worth sharing and reflect what I would like to show others.

I hope that at least one strikes your fancy.

Click on each one to see them in their respective galleries in the Collection.  Thank you for being a part of my journey so far.

2015 Deck – Week 11

The seawall is a frequent haunt of mine, well, as frequent as it is possible.  It is a place of solitude, tranquility, inspiration and sometimes perspiration.

I sometimes see things that I want to photograph; a few years ago I’d just shoot it and not worry too much, now I see it and can often not “see” the photograph I want, or not be able to execute it as I wish.

Over the years my view of what I want to capture has changed, maybe evolved, some might say devolved, but it’s no longer just about shooting wildly, unless it’s a situation where the excitement overrides my senses.  Each scene takes some amount of consideration, whether it’s milliseconds or minutes.

Even though I may try and try to get a particular subject in as expressive a manner as I want, it does not always work out, I took about 17 exposures of one single perspective/angle of this one, and even when I chose the one that appealed to me the most, I still think I missed “the shot”

Click on the image to see it in the Gallery along with other pieces from this year’s Deck Project.

We own

There is much of our country Guyana that I have never seen, and, quite likely, may never see; but I was reminded recently that it is something that is inherently ours, it was not bequeathed to us by God nor are we the only ones who think that we have a right to it.

Venezuela has always laid claim to a significant portion of our country, namely the Essequibo region, and they always rattle their sabres when investors come knocking (or, as they seem to think, snooping).  Suriname also disputes the ownership of a smaller portion, the New River Triangle.  I guess that Brazil has enough land that they don’t bother claiming any from our southern regions, but they are invading us with their people and culture, so that might be a far easier path for us… less painful at any rate – come to think of it, I already prefer a caipirinha to a beer.  Everyone knows that the coastal areas suffer frequently from flooding, that’s just the Atlantic Ocean’s way of saying, it wants it’s piece too.

The great Dave Martins, who founded and lead the Caribbean band “The Tradewinds”, has probably expressed it best in his two songs that point out our pride and possessiveness of what we consider rightfully ours, “Not a Blade of Grass” and “Is we own”.  I can’t express in words enough how much I admire Dave, I grew up listening to his music, I’ve met him several times, and he is still bigger than life to me.  Just in case Maduro didn’t know, Dave Martins is we own!

I’ve seen Guyana from Moleson Creek to Charity, From Georgetown to Lethem, but that is just travelling the main road or trail; there is so much out there to see, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, villages, creeks, animals, towns… to walk through the markets of far-off villages, travel the rivers that wind throughout the length and breadth of Guyana, to listen to the dialects and cadence of chatter in the country, to hear the insects as day turns to night in little-known villages.

OK, enough babbling… I’ve visited the Essequibo coast only twice so far, the first time was in 2008, at which time I visited Tiger Island in the Essequibo River, which I was told is also referred to as the Hamburg, I had a Canon PowerShot S5 IS point-and-shoot camera at the time, but I took photos pretending I was a photographer anyway 🙂  It was overcast and I was never very satisfied with any of the photos, but I was looking for a few for someone today and came across this one which I never really looked back on.

From our sandy brown water beaches to the Rupununi plains… Is we own!  From the minister in government to the vaquero herding cows… Is we own.  From the rivers, great and small, to the mountains wide and tall… is we own!  From the tops of the rainforest canopy the the roots of the mangrove tree… Is we own!  Guyana is we own!

Canon PowerShot S5 IS, 2008

Click on the image to see it in the Gallery along with many other Black and White photos.

2015 Deck – Week 10

In Guyana, when you’re hungry and you want some “fast food” (that’s a relative term, as anyone who has been to a fast food restaurant knows only too well) the place to go is the nearest Chinese Restaurant, or maybe not the nearest, but one you know and trust… ok, trust is a strong word; the one that hasn’t given you “belly-wuk” as yet.

As you can imagine, it’s unlikely that I’d be in a Chinese Restaurant with the camera in hand, but these days the built-in cameras on our cellphones (mobile phones for you northerners) are pretty decent, a year ago I’d probably never have tried to take this photo, but with different gear comes a different attitude.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini Duos  |  Instagram

I’ve been in that chair, probably with the same expression, a few times before… 🙂

Click on the image to see it in the Gallery, for other images from my mobile phone photography experimentation, check my feed on Instagram.