Thanks for the photos submitted to the picture critique so far. I have not been able to evaluate all images so far, but will eventually write some words about the all. Right now I am in the process of packing in order to get back to Norway for the Christmas. I will upload the photos that I still haven’t critique and do it while crossing the Atlantic. As soon as I am back in Norway I will post the picture critique. For anyone else, just keep posting more photos, I will do the critique consecutively and as quickly as possible.
Because I am running out of time, I will repost some thoughts – with some rewriting – I wrote for this blog some years ago. It’s been a while and I think the message could very well be repeated:
Here the other day, I got involved in a little discussion with a friend of mine about originality and how almost everything has already been done before. Or so my friend thought, a little disillusioned. He was bored with so much of what he considered contemporary photography – according to him, it only copies what other masters before photographers of present days have already done. He is a professional photographer himself, and on a certain level, I see that he has a point. However, I have to I disagree. It’s just too cynical a viewpoint. It doesn’t give justice to the individual approach and personal vision.
Yes, most everything has already been photographed – this much I have to admit to my friend. Travellers a hundred year ago or so could come across unknown sights and make complete new photographs of subject matter that nobody had seen before. And if you work in science you can still cross new barriers today if you photograph the latest advancements. Otherwise most everything has indeed been done. However, that is only on a level concerning subject matter, not photography as a personal expression, whether it justifies to be called art or just a happy snapshot by the occasional holiday photographer. The tower of Eiffel certainly has been photographed until boredom from the same perspective again and again. Still every photograph brings traces of each individual photographer into the equation. Maybe not a whole lot but put 100 people with cameras alongside each other and let them shoot the same subject. The result will be 100 different pictures – albeit resembling each other possibly quite closely. The difference will not necessarily be enough to make all 100 pictures strong personal expressions, but nevertheless. If you on the other hand let photographers with a creative vision who are used to thinking in ways of expressing they own ideas, do the same thing, the result will be far more differentiated.
Any photographer has a different approach to the subject or subject matter. We bring our lifetime of experience into the process of making or taking photographs, as well as our emotions, our accumulated knowledge, our technical skills, our understanding, our soul and spirit if I may use such an expression. Take myself. Often have I worked alongside my good friend and photographer Sven Creutzmann in Cuba in particular, and even when we stand side by side and shoot the same subject, we know from experience, that we will come home with completely different pictures. We see things differently; we work in different ways – even under conditions when you would think there isn’t much individual leeway.
Or take a simple cup. How many ways can it be photographed? You may think a cup is a cup is a cup. You may think that Paul Strands photos taken 80 years or so ago have done cups for all times. I think not. I think everyone of us will photograph a cup differently. Again not necessarily better or more interestingly – or even interesting at all. We will nevertheless photograph it with our own vision or even our own limitation of vision – which makes any photograph unique to a more or lesser degree.
What do you think, when it comes to originality? Has everything already been done, or can we add differences and nuances to what has already been made?