Closing Your Eyes

For the last few months I have been running at bullet train speed photographically and organizationally. There were tasks to complete, goals to achieve, deadlines to meet … a never-ending list of Dos.

I probably don’t have to mention the fact that I have done a lot of photography in the last few months. There was a lot of searching, experimenting and evaluating, as always. One of my favourite habits, developed over the last few years, is to go through my imagery (I mean most of the catalogue) on a regular basis.

A confession: I never leave images “for later.” I delete everything I don’t like on the spot as I upload my work. No apologies here. Even though my initial assessment is quite strict and highly biased, I still return to my catalogue for viewing sessions.

My guiding principle when evaluating my own work could best be described by Jens Krauer:

“Find what you want to see by closing your eyes.

Nobody can teach you to shoot like you.”

Closing your eyes?

Yes, put away the noise of social media, trends, LIKEs, comments and popular contests. If you want to create an individual work you will never win there! Don’t get me wrong. I am not a grumpy old man trying to vilify social media (I already do it here). I enjoy interactions with many friends and fellow photographers but there is no doubt in my mind that we all need to take a break from the BEAUTIFIED world of social media, especially if you are a photographer.

I practised what I preached and stayed away from social media for some time (I peeked here and there but in general I was off), slowed down my seeing and just enjoyed my daily routine. It is amazing what the break does for you as a person and your seeing. 

Going back to Jens Krauer’s quote, it is YOU who must look at your own work with YOUR OWN life experiences, YOUR OWN visual sensitivity, honesty and a sense of the photographic place you are in (then there should be an objective, a visual evaluation … but I will leave this highly controversial topic for later).

With fresh eyes and a calm mind, I went through my recent work and picked a few images (with some random thoughts) I would like to share with you once again. Interestingly, most of them were shot with the X100F. Hmm?!

From our series “Amnesia” – still in the works.

 

I will never forget this young man. He has determination and a strong character but you can see internal pain in his eyes. This is one connection made on the street that has a lasting quality. Thank you for letting me photograph you. What a privilege.

 

A young woman waiting for a bus. Where is she going? Visuals without the end of the story. Love it.

 

It took me a few weeks to shoot this image. I had to observe one of the most crowded spots in Vancouver to capture this visual. Yes, you can be that lonely in the crowded city. It’s one of my personal favourites.

 

Files of life? There is a purpose. Ask questions, because I don’t have any answers.

 

This photograph is one of my favourites taken this year. One man in big city. He is walking toward this huge, black space called life. Will he find himself in this chaos? Does he retain his values and personal goals or do the powerful forces of success, money and fame pull him in? We don’t know. We will never know.

 

The gambler on money and life. There is no face, no reward, no consequences, just black space.

 

This is exactly what photography is all about for me. Simple, plain but so strange and troubling. So many questions, so few answers.

 

This is the image I come back to all the time. At first sight there is nothing spectacular here – the light is so-so, there’s no blockbuster subject, it’s a very common place. However, as a whole, this image pleases my eyes. I really like the placement of the elements within the image, the harmony and tonality. I wish I could shoot more imagery like this one. Maybe it’s just me.

 

Is this a person or just a light reflection? I am not sure anymore. It’s a waterfall of light under observation.

 

Visuals I will never be able to repeat. It was a moment in time which offered me this light, this man, this seeing. Priceless.

 

A hand that’s writing the script of life? Or the end of it? Just one more stroke for the memories.

 

The interaction of human beings, light and rain, lines and shadows. City visuals the way I like it.

 

Pure visuals – pattern and harmony.

 

2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.

17 thoughts on “Closing Your Eyes

  1. These photos are wonderful by themselves, but really sing as a group. Great stuff sir!

    I recently deleted half of the 120k photos I had in my catalog. I want to do that again too. And again. I’d like to have 5000 photos I love, and 50 masterpieces.
    Saint Ansel of Adams said he wanted to get one good photo a year, and in 20 years he’d have a portfolio of dreams.

    • Dave,

      Thank you for your uplifting note. Appreciate it.

      There is no question that a strict photo selection is one of the most difficult parts of photography. Most people I met struggle with it and keep huge catalogs of imagery. Your point is right on – 100% agree. Thank you for sharing.

      All the best,

      Olaf

  2. Did you climb into my head? I too delete. I do not use my screen on my camera, but when I put my photos onto my computer it’s a quick yay or nah, I do not save anything that doesn’t catch my interest. I too have turned off the social media. Not too long ago I had someone tell me I HAD TO USE IT. I mean after all if I wanted to get discovered(I’m still trying to figure out where I’d fit in that)I have to get with it. NOPE see I’m a dinosaur, I grew up loving the smell of fixer on my skin and could photograph without a computer telling me what f-stop. BUT I actually dove into the social media world. Little by little I noticed myself changing how I photographed because I wasn’t getting those likes and well certain photos do. I then began to think.. wow I must really SUCK! No kidding it messed with my head. When I came back down to earth and realized what I already knew about photography I deleted my accounts. I recently posted a Holga photo on FB and the only person who really appreciated it(it’s blurry and grainy) was a fellow classmate from Pratt. Ok I’m getting off topic.. way! Any way, I should stop. LOL

    I appreciate and agree with all you have written and great work btw!!!!

    • I have been on WordPress for 7 years and almost nobody likes or understand my work. But I can’t change the way I
      visually and intellectually see my world…like talking

    • It’s funny that my collection of Holga photos are by far my favorite photographs. It seems others like them too, but, I don’t really care. lol

    • Nora,

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I totally understand your point and I think we have a lot of in common in this regard. In my previous posts, Killing The Beast, I have shared my thoughts about the social media and all the circus that goes with it. I am happy to report that I am doing better – I mean taking regular breaks 🙂

      Could you please share some of your work with us. I would love to take a look.

      Wish you all the best,

      Olaf

      • I am glad I have found some like minded people because I was beginning to think I was a bit crazy! 🙂 Share my work? Is there another place I could share with you? ~Nora

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