"Photography is not objective, it is deeply subjective...my photography consistent ideologically and ethically with the person I am." - Sebastiao Salgado
"Darkness causes us no discontent, we resign ourselves to it as inevitable. If light is scarce then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty. But the progressive Westerner is set upon always to better his lot. From candle to oil lamps, from oil lamps to gaslight, and on to the electrical one. His quest for better light never ends, he spares no pains to eradicate even the slightest of shadows" - Junichiro Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows (1933)
Following my recent post of Food for thought - The Creation of the Photographic Idea (Part 1), Halsman also outlined a series of stimulation's a photographer can put to use and help generate creative ideas for any specific photographic project.
1. Stimulation by Brainstorming
It is simply the method of Brainstorming; either individually or collectively within a group of your peers. You can easily discuss or be open to discuss possible ideas or generate new outcomes from that original idea. You may find that it is easier to Mind Map your ideas.
2. Stimulation by Memory
Halsman states "the roots of most of our ideas draw from the great reservoir of our memory". That being said when we read; watch movies; listen to music we enrich our possibilities as artists and humans. However when we try and put our own memory to use we often can't avoid imitation. There are two types of imitation. (1) When imitation means solely copying someone else's work (it is wrong and becomes worthless) and (2) when it creates stimulation which can help develop something that exists and adds elements of the 'something new'. As long as the person adds his or her own values and beliefs it then becomes part of the creative process.
3. Stimulation by Knowledge
In step (2) of how memory can trigger our imagination, our mind can contain different information of knowledge. It can reference to previous outcomes and potential create possible predictions of known effects. This could be simply as reading the scene in front of you and how you tackle the problem, use your own photographic knowledge to help stimulate and create your "vision".
4. Stimulation by an Object
As photographers we often see and view more then most people. We are constantly on the lookout for something interesting however these objects not only make photographs more intereesting but can also stimulate our creative ideas to produce something highly unusual. If you have such an object...give some actual thought to it.
5. Stimulation by the Photograph itself
It is quite common that the frequent source of most inspiration is from the creation of the final photograph. Most of the time we comment only when we actually view the finished file or image noting that 'I should of done it this way'. The obvious advice for this point is to look for stimulation before it is too late. Visualise the image in all its details, you may not have all of them yet but work out what you want to achieve and the considerations for this. It often creates something new and or different.
"The path of the impulse is directed by associations". The more logical our thinking, the more patterns in terms of our associations become established means or solutions. These often become more and more predictable and less natural. When we aren't typically faced with the problem at hand we often leave it be. Whereas if we are constantly faced with the problem we are constantly stimulating...the what, the why, the how.
I recently received a copy of Philippe Halsman's (1961) book on The Creation of the Photographic Idea. He maintains that there is a immense difference between "making" a photograph and "taking" a photograph and I couldn't agree with him more. In the book he created a series of rules which can be seen as tools of all photographic art. These are helped to create a photograph into a striking and unusual image by the following:
1. The Rule of the Direct Approach
One main thing that Halsman mentions is to be as straightforward and as plain with your imagery as possible. This can often make a strong photograph. often to many people are overwhelmed with the notion of "what to photograph?", when it could be a clearly obvious solution. It is simply to make an ordinary and uninteresting subject appear interesting and unusual.
2. The Rule of the Unusual Technique
This rule is quite simple and often evident. Typically the subject is often ordinary and uninteresting however our aim as photographers is to make our subject interesting and create an unusual picture. We are free to do anything we want to do without the photographic technique:
3. The Rule of the Added Unusual Feature
The photographer to capture the audiences attention by drawing attention to something unexpected by introducing an unusual feature or prop into the photograph.
4. The Rule of the Missing Feature
Stimulates the view by going against his or her expectations.
5. The Rule of Compounded Features
Sometimes you find a particular idea which is often highly individual, however you realise that it is quite week to make it significantly unusual...This rule of the compound feature is to simply not disregard the original idea but to simply combine other rules and add to the originality to the work. By combining one or more ideas, by developing and compounding...it can typically create a staisfying result.
6. The Rule of the Literal of the Ideographic Method.
Often photographers are presented to visually illustrate their own ideas. Typically invent or create a new thought about a particular subject or object. This rule advices to translate the literral work into images, this doesn't have to be the simply words but rather the idea of the statement which is expressed visually.
It seems to me that a good photographer is a combination of two things: one is interesting perceptions and the other is an understanding of how the world is translated by a camera into a photograph. You have to have something to communicate. But you also have to have a real understanding of the tools of communication in photography: that you are taking a three-dimensional world that flows in time and are going through this transformative process of making this flat, bounded, static object. - Steven Shore