More and more lately I have been drawn to photographs with a painterly quality to them. I have an urge to take my complex and highly technical device in entirely new directions. I long to bend and shape my camera in ways that depart from the textbook approach and create images that are decidedly feminine, ephemeral, and maybe even a bit spiritual.
There is no question that I have a repressed painter living somewhere in my psyche just waiting to be let out. But having no time or interest to invest in painting, I am delighted to use my camera in ways that scratch the itch.
When I swim with my camera, I have the choice to capture precision — crisp, clear waves with as much in focus as possible — or open my aperture to a forgiving f5 (or wider) and embrace the softness and movement all around me.
I mentioned earlier that these photographs have a feminine quality to them. In my mind, photography has both a masculine and feminine side (regardless of the gender of the shooter). The masculine approach leads with the manual first — aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus, all just so; then we take the shot. We use our brain a great deal when shooting from a masculine place.
The feminine approach is deeply intuitive. We look through our viewfinder and receive the shot. We use our heart, not our head. It’s flexible and relaxed. We make adjustments to our settings without thinking too much. Shooting from the feminine aspect is all about flow and discovery.
I am fascinated by the dance between the two. I watch myself (and the resulting work) as I lean into one or the other, or strive to balance the two. The masculine is notable for his dedication to precision and rigor. The feminine is remarkable for its capacity to stir my emotions, to make me feel something. The masculine feels sturdy, like a well-designed building. The feminine like a painting or a piece of music.
Indeed, both aspects are essential, but I love that we, as photographers, can decide which brush to paint with on a given day. For now, I am excited about the direction of this work and my decision to stretch the capacity of the camera to create painterly images.
On a related note, I loved this post by Yan Palmer, Blurry is Beautiful. Also the work of Naomi Ernest, whose Flora Obscura series explores flower and tree imagery in similar ways to my water and people.