I Never Wanted Reality (Disaster and destruction are real and people will stop and look extra-long every time.)

Forest Fog with model Kendall Strampel, makeup by Ambre'  Baxter, dress by designer Zhen Nymph.

Forest Fog with model Kendall Strampel, makeup by Ambre’ Baxter, dress by designer Zhen Nymph.

“A photograph is not reality—it is at best and illusion. It brings back memories, changes emotions, but it is not real and you can never achieve reality in a photograph.”  I never wanted to be a photographer and I know that can sound very confusing coming from a man who owns a camera and uses it almost every day. While I follow the steps and the actions of a photographer it was from the very beginning that I wanted to create something. But I was never quite sure what I was even thinking of, all I knew was the camera looked like something that I could have a lot of fun with. So I did start out as all photographers do and headed down the road of (dare I say it) “capturing moments in time.” I hate saying it because it is so cliché and I think I’m supposed say that phase as if I was saying something as prolific as “I have found the cure to all cancers.”  It is as cliché as using a lens aperture illustration in the “O” of the word photographer on your business card as about 80% of photographers do. Yes I’m different… does it make me better? No, it just means I’m different.

While I do have fun sapping the shutter to capture images of many things, whether I use my DSLR, my point & shoot or my mobile phone camera this is not what excites me. What excites me is using my DSLR as a tool to create an element for a final image; all the others are just photos. I noticed a long time ago like way back in film days when people had photo albums lying around and I would pick up a photo album and look through it. I would find myself leafing through the album looking at the snap shots and really the only thing interesting was seeing a photo of an uncle when he was young and had hair or maybe what somebody looked like when they were a young child. Most likely you yourself did the same, you leafed through the photos the same as most of us do now when we scroll through Facebook and just hit the “Like” icon. We tend to just look quickly and move on. Well that really bothered me. It really bothered me when somebody looked at my photo album sitting under the coffee table and said “oh… can I look at your photos?” acting somewhat interested, but yet they would quickly become less interested and start moving faster & faster as if it was a race to get to the end. I soon come to realize that they were not being rude but merely the photos are just not that interesting to them. Even now more than ever I think people are numb to photos because we all see so many. We look at more photos now than ever before. Having social media and cameras in our phones has kind of given us all “photo overload.”

I have posted in the past that in the beginning I started to get a vision of what I wanted to create and it was not a photograph, but more an image or an illustration and it was something more than merely pushing a shutter and saying “done.” I soon found that I could actually put some sort of a description to what I was trying to say or do. I wanted to create an image and not just “take a photo” as we so commonly call it. Simply put I wanted to create something “interesting,” I wanted to create something that would make people stop and look at that page in the photo album. Make them stop and just look. I don’t care if they say anything good or bad or indifferent, I just want them to stop and look. Reality doesn’t make people stop and look. Well… unless it is a train wreck or some horrible thing. Now I know you’re probably thinking “sexy,” people will stop and look at something sexy and you’re right. But the most show stopping sexy images are not “real” as the have most likely been touched with the powers of Photoshop or airbrushed as they called it a long time ago. Disaster and destruction are real and people will stop and look extra-long every time. …funny how that works.

I take flak from time to time about the fact that I use Photoshop and my creations are not “real,” but I don’t want real, nobody wants real. Real is not interesting. Look at all the crap people sit around re-posting on Facebook every day, a large amount of what gets re-posted or “shared” is Photoshopped and I’m not talking about your personal photos, but rather what I mean is the plethora of crap that people see as “real.” I could go on & on about the fake animal torture photos and the weird diseases photos and on & on.

I have to laugh at a photographer who once said to me “you’re not a real photographer because you use Photoshop to destroy the original image and mutilate it into something else.” Wow! That is quite a mouth full I thought to myself. My reply to this purist who showed nearly all his work in black & white was; I never claimed to be a photographer, my business card states I’m a “Photographic Artist” as does the home page of my website. As a matter-of-fact I always used the tag line “there are photographers and there is me.” And you my friend show most of your work in black & white whilst reality is seen in color. He was taken back a bit and it was all in fun. He said “well you have a camera and that makes you a photographer.” My reply; if I had a gun would that make me a criminal killer or a police officer? Or a gun dealer? My camera is merely a tool to create something.

So the credit for opening statement of this blog post goes to Joel Grimes. I seen it in a workbook that was handed out at one of his seminars that I attended and it really caught my eye.

Thanks so much for reading.

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