Photography is a visual language. Like other languages it requires effort and dedication to learn. It is the art of connecting with your subject and thoughtfully using light and creativity to mould a still memory of your vision.

As we have been taking photographs for over 100 years, we are experienced enough to go beyond portraits and landscapes to take photography into the artistic realm. Capturing the emotions you feel as you look at people and landscapes is another level of photography, as is capturing the essence of a person or landscape.

To enjoy photography in the digital era, we try to follow these principles:

Observe, connect, visualize, think, create – repeat all steps – and only then press the shutter button.  We believe that, like any form of self-expression, photography requires an intense mental and physical effort. Pressing the shutter button without vision and mental involvement is not photography, it’s just copying.

Concentrate on the visual and emotional quality of the photograph, not just on technical perfection. We know that the Internet has a massive number of photography websites and blogs. Unfortunately, many websites feature technically perfect photos but truly mediocre photography. It seems to us that many photographers and enthusiasts have become “technical experts” who are not much interested in photography as the art of seeing. A strong, artistically beautiful image, even if it is technically imperfect, will always triumph over a technically perfect but dull image.

Use simple and unobtrusive equipment, which allows you to concentrate on the subject, light, composition and creativity. The photo industry came up with a really great and hugely profitable formula: we will make a camera that does everything and each year we will add functions, buttons, and menus and of course pixels to outdo our competition. This approach has not only made it difficult to use such Frankenstein-like cameras, but has also turned a generation of artists into technical, robot-like machines. It kills creativity.

Get your imagery right in the camera – avoid the “I’ll fix it later” mentality. So often we hear “my photo doesn’t look right but it’s okay, I’ll fix it with the software.” This approach is more and more popular but it always leads to horrible photography and is a waste of valuable time.

Minimize the number of photos taken – photo “hoarding” has become a real problem. Digital technology has allowed the taking of unlimited photos at minimal cost and effort. Therefore, the habit of “keeping them all” is very common. This approach often leads to frustration and paralysis for many, especially new photographers. Keep and share only the best photography; don’t waste your viewer’s time with mediocre imagery – respect your viewer. With the rise in popularity of the social media, uploading snapshots has become a mass obsession.

Minimize the time spent in front of the computer – we are photographers, not graphic designers. Photography starts with a vision, not a computer. If you spend more time in front of your computer than in the field taking photos, something is wrong. Photoshop won’t make you a better photographer.

Be open to visual and artistic criticism; avoid getting into technical discussions. Technical forums and discussion have exploded in recent years. It is difficult, however, to find a place where you can debate the artistic character of photographs, composition, style and lighting. Don’t get yourself into never-ending arguments about cameras. Use them.

Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy. Just do it!

Olaf & Kasia



16 thoughts on “Philosophy

  1. Fantastic and succinct Olaf, in fact I couldn’t have said it better myself. Well, actually it conforms exactly to what I put across to students in classes called “The Philosophy of Photography” and on my site. It’s so obvious that I continue to be amazed at how much is discussed in forums about gear, instead of the essence etc. Did I do that 50 years ago with analog gear? Hope not. Thank you for getting it out there and hope it reaches more and more people. Art and craft is food for the soul, for the creator and the observer (both do the same anyway) so the more “soul” is discussed, the better.

  2. Dear Olaf, thank you very much for your great work on this website, as well as in the social media channels. It is always a real pleasure to follow your thoughts and to see your images. I follow your blog already for a while – thank you for sharing your images and your ideas with us.
    One thing I love the most in all your channels is your huge positive thinking and the gratitude in your word, they are so positive and encouraging.
    I own my own blog and I think it is always a good opportunity to learn from each other. Your street images and the careful compositions are wonderful – they helped and inspired me a lot. Although I think it is very important to develop and keep your own style. This is what I like in photography – I think a good image is made from the inside out, and not just taken.
    Please continue like that and all the best!

  3. “The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of ‘how to do.’ The salvation of photography comes from the experiment”.
    1947, László Moholy-Nagy

  4. I like what you have stated as your philosophy of the art of photography. I once took a photograph class in college and the first thing our teacher did was to forbid us from using our good cameras. He sent us out with cheap little plastic dime store cameras, his instructions were ” now I want you to create art”. You would be amazed at what we created and how we started to see form, light and shadow without our worrying about technology.

  5. Hi Olaf and Kasia

    I am buying into the Fujifilm X system having formed the opinion that it is the best balance of system size and quality. I have discovered your images via Steve Huff’s site. I am most impressed. Your vision and images are inspiring. If I can produce work anywhere near the quality of yours I will be content. Thank you for sharing your vision.

    I have heard a lot about “water colour” or “painterly” effects from the X cameras, which is a concern. Your philosophy regarding minimising computer time is one I would share. I wondered therefore if you would be willing to share your approach to image processing, both Jpeg and RAW. What do you do to maximise image quality and minimise processing? What software do you use? Do you encounter these problem effects and how do you overcome them? What ever you do I am sure that you will have an efficient and effective answer.

    Thanks, Alan

  6. I love your photography and your philosophy; especially the bit about minimizing the time you spend in front of the computer.

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