I didn’t understand the importance of my connection with my subject matter for many years. I think at first I intuitively took photographs of things I loved and that I wanted to share with others. Somewhere along the line, with my dedication to learning and studying photography, I lost this focus.
I do personally have a philosophy that I want to live a positive life, and concentrate on the things that work, that I connect with, and output work that expresses my love for the world. I acknowledge that is not for everyone. Some are more content talking and illustrating what is wrong with the world. This is not for me. If this is you may have to juggle this weeks exercise around, to be about what you are passionate about. I prefer the word love… smiles.
Years later I realise that photographing subjects that I have an emotional connection gives me better photographs. For example a trip in the desert would be fruitless until I start to photograph trees. I don’t connect with places, so much as I connect with the trees.
I have been photographing trees for most of my life. I have been defending trees and teaching people about their significance all of my adult life. Is it no wonder that I finally realise it is the trees in the landscape are my true love with landscape photography? Is it any wonder that I find a spiritual connection with trees? Is it any wonder that my best photographs are of trees? I love trees… simple… I photograph them… I make projects out of them… When I am in need of a subject I turn to them.
So this weeks exercise is to do some deep soul searching and figure out what it is you love. What you are passionate about?
Write a list and see if you can put the contents in order with the most important on top.
Are these the things you photograph?
Go back through your photographs and see if you can find examples of the top few things you love. The top three or four I recommend.
Do these match my assertion that your best photographs are of subjects you love?
Now consider your best photographs? Do you have a best ten? OK, a very hard thing… Perhaps it is easier to identify you favorite photographs. Are they of subjects you love? If not love, what other emotion do they portray? Perhaps they are the subjects that stir up the biggest emotions in you?
Do they match? Your best / favorite work with your passions and loves?
Am I onto something here?
Lastly, go and photograph some of those things on your love / passionate about list. Post some and lets talk about your connection with the subject matter and what influence it has on your work.
I would ascertain that you should make projects out of this list, but we will save projects for another week.
Post your passions, our loves and our favorite and best work, and talk about how subject and connection are linked or not.
Just as an end note, I do like to photograph things I am curious about too, and things that I don’t like. It is just that they aren’t my best work, nor are they ones I wish to share. Unless they spark or trigger a passion and love.
Trees from my collection…. just a few… Photographs and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019