My grade nine self will probably say it best for me, because I haven’t thought that critically about photography since then and it has the typical teenage candidness, and probably also shows my tendency to be overstimulated. In the same way, its prevalence makes me hate it and be unable to live without it. The dream of taking beautiful photos of outdoor pursuits and things I love seems so far away, but it’ll only be further the longer I put it off. I used to only read pop novels too, but after thinking about it/studying it critically for years it’s become much more rewarding and easy to think about it in more useful productive ways. Like English, like photography, like anything else – critical thinking and practice leads to achievement. Just be patient.
So today my brother bought me a camera, probably knowing I’d never buy one for myself and use that as an excuse. 200 photos later, there were really none that I’d call “good” and one that I’d call “crisp”. I used that one to edit. And although I didn’t feel like a ninth grader anymore it led me to realize I had done some critical thinking of photography since then. And that I liked it.
-not realizing there were two adjusting rings (surprised because the SLRs I’ve briefly used had two)
-being unable to focus (due to above) and also
-not knowing what shutter speed and aperture to use to keep images in focus
My grade nine self on photography:
What they make me see
Photography has changed my vision of everything-in the sense that everything here in Canada is made, manufactured. Every day we are bombarded with hundreds of ads-and the majority conversing in graphics. If I didn’t see so many pictures wherever I am, where would my brain get the notion to “want” the most random things?
As of now, I really like a good photograph; and because I see mostly product photography, that’s what I relish seeing most often. I love the white-with-detail backgrounds, the smooth surfaces of a shiny new clock, the evenly lit, oh-so-textured furniture. And jewelry-oh! The textures! The perfection! In reality I would never want a chunky orange necklace but in the picture, it’s perfectly formed edges and shiny sheen is so alluring. Thanks to controlled, diffused, golden light and digital editing to enhance details, these things are being shown in the most perfect and hard-to-replicate situation. But whether it will make me buy more or not, it has insidiously, almost regretfully, worked its way into my life. I am now interested in graphics, product design etc. etc.
Everyone can like a good photograph, like what product or place its recording. Because photography is for everyone, everyone can see and appreciate an image that makes them feel good or curious. When I see perfect textures I can’t help but want to feel the real thing. It makes me think that there is something to be had in manufactured goods showcased in every magazine when all I had to go on before were dollar store trips. Photography opened up the world of money and buying to me because usually I wouldn’t go to a store and observe the various racks of makeup, bags, clothes etc. etc.
It makes my brain more busy. As the images flash by my eyes, they settle down in some temporary store, because sooner or later the better ones will probably incorporate themselves in a new image-a new design in my head. If I hadn’t seen so many images I don’t doubt that I couldn’t come up with more ideas; but it’s the fact that they inspired me to keep on thinking outside the box that changes my way of seeing and thinking.
And now I can’t help but look for these images. It’s like I always want to be in a dollar store, because all the various imitations that are helplessly creative amuse me. They make me think that by seeing more, I’ll find more of that amusement and ideas. When you are exposed to too much of something you feel connected to it and grudgingly accept it, want it; even if you don’t understand why, you agree with it. When you see the image of a gold, shiny, sculptural ring, you automatically assert its money-status value; you may not have seen such a unique ring in a local store ever in your life without photography. But now you know it’s ‘important’ because of its flawless photography, or least you think so because the photography is so good that this thing shines like a modern standard-this is a sign of prosperity.
But now with the environment on the brink of everyone’s minds, I see the perfect product images in a new way. I see wasteful leaps into extravagance, like bags, seemly to be made to be captured into still images and then discarded a month later; and they are still beautiful, but also so empty. Images of beautiful landscapes, however, make me more than look out the window and go outside.
Photos remind me of parts of the world that actually exist, parts of the world that I’d never see otherwise. It expands my point of view, changes my point of view. It forces me to see irrelevant things, selfish money-making things, but it also makes me aware that these things are being made and continuously being replaced, when there is so much natural beauty to be experienced. If only we were subjected to more of those photos instead of plastic messes.
Photography has changed my vision of everything.