With film photography, every photo was taken with great caution (for obvious reason that it costs money); each shot was to be approached with surgeon’s precision, mathematical calculation and a lot of heart, which often results in the subject looking rather stiff in order to pay the respect worthy of the photographer’s effort, which is beside the point. As an advocate for creativity, I understand the argument that digital photography opens up the possibility for free experimentation, hence diversity and wild imagination. That too, is beside the point in this essay.
In the digital age, we are accustomed to second chances, anonymity and a sense of entitlement towards almost everything at all.
We have the ability to alter any bad subject to make it seamless; the open secret called Photoshop. This often results in people taking this virtual reality to the extreme, by going under the knife, without realising that they have to face a stranger in the mirror morning and night, for the rest of their life.
We fast track the process of learning life by hiring the best life coaches, and submitting our kids to the best institutions. We LOL without even any facial expression half of the time. We conveniently “delete” friends, as if they would really disappear at the press of a button.
You get the drift.
It begs to the questions; where is the element of truth and authenticity beneath all these? Aren’t the best teachers in life supposed to be the mistakes we make along the way, and the lessons in bouncing back? Shouldn’t every task be undertaken with utmost dedication and passion? Since when did we allow facebook to replace the need for a real community?
My approach to photography has taken a turn since this encounter. I waited, I smelled, and I even listened before I clicked. No doubt, I am still using the same Ixus 980, looking through the big digital screen before every shot. The outcome of this process may not necessarily have resulted in better picture. However, never before, there is an element of solidarity between myself and the moment that could only be explained in an old fashioned conversation over coffee.
I recently learned about the Art of Elimination. In essence, its about the discipline and endurance of cutting things out in the name of simplification. It surely hurts taking out some of the stuffs you thought are brilliant from your work. But then, there is where Elegance is found in the process.
My break through solution…
While I’ve taken out the following part, you can still read my rantings about the Digital world, here:
*We churn out the most spotless essays through spell checks, without much depth or meanings. We have the ability to Google the best mind in the past and present, quote them and sound intelligent, without diving deep into history behind the context.
When was the last time you celebrated the thrill and excitement of a hand written letter from the mail?
One day, we even have to explain to our kids that once upon a time, music, films and softwares used to cost money.
Photography has evolved into an art saddled with two adds-on skills, which I shall label ESP².
You mentioned the first ESP, a misnomer for
E=elimination (aka composition)
S=simplicity (also about composition)
P=Probability (aka chance, shooting 1001 to hope for 1 best shot). Why after all, “film” is cheap.
In my growth from the film and darkroom industry, I stubbornly adhere to the 2nd ESP, which translate as
E=Emotion (I must capture that intimate moment, that very emotion that makes the picture)
S=Sells (If my client is touched by the immortalized emotion, I know my picture(s) can sell)
P=Photos (heirloom quality, professional quality, the ESP quality…kaching…did I hear the cashier till?)
Photography, or I should call it imaging, is today about ESP². My 2cts.
Thank you Mr. Er,
Sometimes the greatest compliment to a writer is not necessary someone saying how good your are or even those who agree with you. But the ones who take the time to ponder, comment and challenge your thinking. Because this requires time, patience and thoughtfulness. Thanks for continuing to be a great teacher!
A toast to ESP2!