Why photography is boring. Maybe.

About time I did something like this.

We took the dog for a walk on New Brighton beach last night, just as the sun was going down. It wasn’t exactly setting, but it was on its way. As some of you will know this is a favourite place to let the dog have a run around on the sand, and it’s been the subject of far too many of my photographs over recent years. But, sometimes, you get a good one, such as the one kindly chosen by Kate Day at The Telegraph to be included in this year’s charity calendar 🙂

Last night, there was a queue of photogs out there and their very presence made me question what I was doing there, why, my equipment, everything.

So, what was I doing there? Well, apart from walking the dog, which I could do in the village, without having to get in the car and drive 7 or 8 miles, I went there to photograph the lighthouse. But as soon as I saw the others there, I didn’t really want to. They were all standing or crouching within 20 feet of each other. They all had their Canon 450Ds or their Nikon D60s. They all had those backpacks that only digital SLR users carry, so that, for a walk on the beach they have every lens they own on their back.

They all had a small, zipped case. Yes, out came the ND soft grad filters. Out came the 81 or 85 warm up filters. Out came the Jessops silver tripods. It was all very depressing and all very predictable.

So, what on earth has this to do with me, you may (or may not) ask? Nothing.

Except that I just didn’t want to be part of that crowd. Ann reminded me of the time (before HER time!) when I used to be a member of a camera club back in Maidenhead and we’d go out in a coach to Longleat, or Greenwich or somewhere similar. We’d descend, en masse, on a location, just as these people on the beach were doing. What’s the difference? The difference is that I don’t do that any more.

OK, so some of us get together every quarter and wander the streets of some Northern city and take a few photographs, before retiring to a pub to spend twice as long talking BS about cameras and having some lunch. Is that the same? Probably, but it doesn’t feel like it.

I had the Nikon with me, with the 28 Elmarit-R. Why didn’t I have the Lee filters and the tripod? Why wasn’t I queuing to get into the spot that everyone else was at? Because it’s boring. Digital SLRs are boring. People who want to be Joe Cornish are… well. They will never be Joe Cornish, and good job too. The world only needs one Joe Cornish. But his photographs? Well.

Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful photographs, but there seems to be a definite “formula” involved. Slide in the 0.9 soft ND grad. Add another 81 filter, just over the top 1/3 and at an angle of 22 degrees. All that stuff.

It must be me. I must be missing something, because, if one reads photography magazines or looks at the sort of stuff that sells by the bucket load, this is the sort of thing that people want. Just not me.

But, what DO I want? What do I want out of my photography moving forward?

Firstly, and I have said this in the past, but not done anything about it, I need a project. A serious, year long, photography project. I need to get myself organised and get down to it, and stop just taking snaps of anything that I fancy.

Secondly, I need to stop flitting between colour and black and white. Decide what I want to concentrate on, and stick to it.

Black and white.

Thirdly, I need to decide whether I am going to stick with “35mm” photography, or move into something else. HUGE investment down that road though. Best to stick with what I have.

Fourthly, am I going to save up for an M9/M10, or stick with what I have? Certainly, the M8 was not for me for a hundred and one reasons, but the M9 might be more attractive. But, I already have a full frame digital camera in the D700, which with the Leica glass gives me the best of both worlds. Do I need to spend another £5,000 on an M9? Probably not.

See. Mr Decisive strikes again.

If you have got this far, thanks for reading. I do need to get my head around why I do what I do, and what I can do to do it better, and with more satisfaction.

One thing’s for sure. I won’t be going to Perch Rock at sunset again in a hurry.

But here’s one I made earlier (last night, at around sunset, in fact)

5 thoughts on “Why photography is boring. Maybe.”

  1. Nice piece Mr.B, agree totally with you – I have been invited to numerous Flickr meets in the past and never taken them up on it, to me it's always like a plague of locusts descending on the subject, with no thought or real interest in the subject, just purely for communal back slapping afterwards (ever noticed it's the guy who's reckoned to be the 'best one of the group' who arranges the Flickr meet?)I do believe to get a decent pic of something you have to see something of interest in it or it has to mean something to you, in short something has to drive you to want to take the picture. Then again, I do tend to be a total loner when out taking pics. Not sure about you having to have a project, We all have our own 'hobby horses' (mine is tower blocks and the less luxurious side of living) but don't think you don't really need to make a project out of it, just keep building it up in the background and maybe one day you'll have enough for a project. And at least it will all be stuff you like and each photo means something. Not just boring landscapes that you cant even remember where it was you had to jostle with 15 other blokes.

  2. Andy – you are a good photographer and you speak well of the people helping you through this event. Why not a B&W portfolio of the people at work who are doing so much to look after you ?

  3. That's an excellent idea, my anonymous friend. I do have some of them already and there's a great excuse next week, when we all go to Chester races to celebrate the retirement of one of our longest standing Directors.Leave that with me…And thanks!

  4. I hope you've made those decisions you've mentioned here Andy. Maybe it's not your thing, but I think the picture I might have taken then was one of the sunset with all of the photographers on the beach.Stick to what you love doing though mate. I know you like that lighthouse, so what of other photogs do too. Just keep snapping what you love to snap and remember that you were indeed a member of a camera club yourself once 😉

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