The Realm of Ideas

The Realm of Ideas

In the last few weeks my keyboard has become my best friend. These periods of intense writing are something I enjoy because I am well aware that the gods of inspiration could flip on me anytime. 

Sometimes I wonder why the written word appeals to me so much. Why do I need to write down my thoughts? Maybe because I experience the burden of a never-ending flow of visual ideas and I need to organize them into logical thoughts. It is not that the ideas are great. Not at all. In fact, most of them are better forgotten, fast. I am learning that in this process of visual risk-taking, every smidgen of the new and fresh must have the chance to prove itself in this one-person realm of ideas. I am also aware that this is no place for justice or evenness. There is no time and no resources for such luxury. 

I know one thing. It will never stop because stopping this mechanism of visual mayhem would put a hold on . . . in short, no. Writing is a form of therapy and tidiness, allowing the ideas to defend themselves and stay afloat but also take the form of a civilized conversation. As many of you know, I have my own YouTube channel, which started doing quite well . . . until I stopped posting videos. I know I want to revive it but, so far, the long and onerous road from the written word to the video has got me down. I hope I can fall in love in video again and figure this out soon. Any ideas?

Other than writing down my ideas as a way of organizing my thoughts, I have been working on more structured pieces. One is the second part of my book, “Seeing Simplified – How to see and craft great imagery,” but this time focused on travel. I realized that I have spent much of my photographic life travelling to some amazing places off the beaten path in North America. Over the years, many of you have asked me about the places and images. In a few weeks, travel season is starting, and you will be on the road. In this book I share my way of travelling and seeing, planning and executing imagery when on the go. I share the stories behind the shots and note everything that helped me take those pictures.

I am planning to release this book sometime in July so stay tuned for more info. In the meantime, for those of you who would like to shoot with me this summer, I have two workshops coming up in Vancouver. The July workshop is already full but today I just announced a very special event.

On August 23-25 I will be co-leading a workshop with my friend, brilliant photographer, podcaster and author – Ibarionex Perello. In short – two photographers, one workshop! This is a one-time event of deep learning, great photography and photographic friendship. Make sure to book your spot early as we expect the workshop to sell out quickly.

Let me show you the most recent photographs taken near my home, so you have an idea where my seeing is at the moment. 

Next time . . . 

2019 © OLI Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

Photographic Updates

Photographic Updates

HELP BERT TO FIND HIS GEAR

In the last few days the highly distressing news hit us that Bert Stephani’s gear was stolen.

I remember well the early days of the Fujifilm X community when a bunch of weirdos talked about the original X100. Then the X-Pro1 came along with three original lenses. And then there was Bert! He taught us, entertained us and made the community click and prosper. His images, videos, portraits, a project about immigrant families and many others provided us with visuals we all enjoyed and cherished. Over the years, Bert Stephani became one of the faces of the Fuji community and, for many, a personal and/or photographic friend.

Please share the info about his gear, including serial numbers. We must make sure that those who performed this act of intrusion will feel pressured, trapped and nervous, and eventually be caught.

https://www.bertstephani.info/blog/2018/1/18/i-got-robbed-help-me-find-my-gear-back

 

ROAMING FRAME

Charlene Winfred and Flemings Bo Jensen, both super-talented photographers and filmmakers, have recently started their own video production company http://roamingfra.me/

With a “minimum gear – maximum creativity” philosophy, their talent for visuals, storytelling and great sense of humour (so rare in today’s super serious world of photography), I am totally sold. Here is their latest production.

Make sure to check out a fascinating project by Charlene Winfred called, “In Transit.” Charlene has been working on this project for years, visiting numerous countries and photographing people “in constant motion.” When we all run around taking daily snapshots to share on the internet, the dedication and persistent work on a long-term project is what makes photography worthwhile and articulate. I cannot wait for her book to come out with such rich, multi-year content.

http://charlenewinfred.com/work/in-transit/

 

THE STREETS AT NIGHT

Sonny Nathan recently wrote a great post about photographing at night, which you should check out. I really like his “framing life through creativity” motto.

https://www.sonnynathan.com/blog/2018/1/13/street-at-night-new-year-new-ventures

 

FUJILOVE MAGAZINE SERIES

Starting this month, you will find my monthly column “Simplicity-In-Seeing” where I write about seeing, inspiration and many other topics not always widely covered. The objective of this series is to have an honest and inspiring discussion about photography. If you are not a subscriber yet, please make sure to join. There is nothing like magazine format when you can slow down and indulge in great content. You will find great photographers and thinkers such as Jonas Rask, Charlene Winfield, Jens Krauer, Ian MacDonald and many others. I am especially looking forward to the March issue. Here is the kicker: you won’t find my column in the magazine this March for a very good reason! 🙂

https://fujilove.com/magazine

 

BERLIN CREATIVE STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP

Two spots have opened up for my Berlin Street Photography Workshop, March 16-18. I am so excited to lead a group of photographers and challenge ourselves with crafting great photography in this stunning city. It is especially intriguing due to Germany’s privacy laws, which in general terms almost eliminate the possibility of showing people’s faces on the street. While some may view it as a limitation, it provides a great framework for creative seeing.

https://olafphoto.wpengine.com/streets-berlin/

I am also thrilled to announce that Kevin Pilz will be assisting me during the workshop and sharing his photographic journey with us. He is a talented photographer from Germany with a great eye for striking compositions.

Make sure to check out his work.

https://www.kevinpilzphoto.com

Here are a few stunning images taken by Kevin.

© Kevin Pilz

© Kevin Pilz

© Kevin Pilz

© Kevin Pilz

© Kevin Pilz

© Kevin Pilz

© Kevin Pilz

 

CONFERENCE CALLS

Last month I started doing monthly conference calls with subscribers of Simplicity-In-Seeing. The idea is to have a live conversation about photography. Participants can share their computer screens and present their own work. Most importantly, we learn from shared imagery together. The next conference call is coming up later this month.

www.simplicityinseeing.com

 

HELLO AUSTRALIA

I am considering a visit to Australia to offer a photography workshop. Please let me know if you would be interested in joining me for some creative seeing.

 

NEW SEEING

Most of us look for inspiration from the well-known legends of photography. When people list their favourite photographers, the same names often come up. This is great but sometimes we tend to idolize some photographers while ignoring many new innovative voices. One of the most inspiring ways for me to kick in new ideas is to look at the work of new, often very young photographers. They follow their own path, have nothing to prove and nobody to impress. Most importantly, they are not afraid of taking visual risks. I am planning to write an entire post with links to the names you may never have heard of before, whose seeing is unique.

 

Just one image from me today, The Essence of Barcelona.

 

2018 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved

How I learnt to stop worrying about technicals and start enjoying photography

How I learnt to stop worrying about technicals and start enjoying photography

You’ve just bought your first serious digital camera and you cannot conceal your delight. Or maybe you already have one but feel you are ready for the next phase. You want to take your interest in photography further and become a committed amateur or maybe even a semi-pro.

You spend hours looking at the perfect, gorgeous, clinically sharp images on online forums and galleries. You soak up all the advice you can find. Then, you invest in a faster computer, start backing up your images and purchase post-processing software, a lot of it. You come across numerous articles dealing with the ideal settings for sharpening. Then, you look at the photographers you follow and admire: What great post-processing! “If only I knew the settings for this photo my life would be so much easier,” you think. After experimenting with different looks, you buy a new set of presets. Then you see stunning images from another online guru and you just love them. You need to get your hands on those presets as well.

You go deeper into technical know-how, you start learning Photoshop: curves, layers, sharpening, expose-to-the-right…the cycle of technical learning seems to have no end. You jump on photo forums passionately discussing settings, software choices, lenses…you know you can do better. You are nervous when you crop your image. The thought that you will somehow lose those precious pixels terrifies you. A careful examination at 100% magnification only confirms your deepest fears. Your friend is shooting at a higher ISO?! No way! Even the smallest trace of grain turns your already-restless nights into nightmares. You are becoming obsessed with technical perfection – after all, it is digital photography and you want only the best.

The problem is…you are getting tired.

You spend very little time taking photos as most of your time is consumed with technical aspects. All these hi-tech decisions take a toll on you. You become tired and disengaged. You have thousands of unprocessed images on your hard drive because you cannot decide which simulation, program or plug-in to use. Your photography is limited to sharing your technical titbits with like members of countless online forums – 37 last time you counted. The connection, light, composition – not right now please – there are much more important things to worry about.  

What happened to the joy of photography? Why, despite all your hard work, knowledge and expertise are your images so bland? Why, despite all your commitment and effort, after taking thousands of images – are you getting nowhere?   

Have you ever gone through a similar experience?

I did to some extent in my early digital days. This spiral of technical addiction not only takes a serious toll on your seeing but turns you into a disengaged and crusty caricature of a sub-photographer. After my own experience and after talking to many successful photographers and interacting with my students, I realized how common this problem is. Of course, some people barely experience any symptoms, while others recognize the problem early and start working on it. However, many people struggle for years, with some giving up on photography entirely.

Before I discuss solutions, let me offer a disclaimer. I am not against technical knowledge or expertise. There are many important facets of digital photography which to some extent should be pursued by every photographer, depending on their interests and subject matter. However, if this approach starts swamping artistic and visual considerations, you may need to take action. Please note: graphic artists who create their visual art in software are not the subject of this article. I am referring here to the craft of photography.

What are the solutions?

The first step is to recognize that the problem exists. If you cannot stop buying new gear or lenses without a clear purpose, if you spend more time in front of your computer than in the field, if you feel frustrated with post-processing choices and participate in countless technical-oriented this vs. that discussions – you may need to make some drastic changes.

First, you need to simplify your gear. Identify the lenses or cameras you don’t use and sell them. Leave only two, maximum three lenses and go out shooting with one at a time. Ideally, if you are into street or travel photography reduce your equipment to just one camera and one lens. You won’t believe how this simplifies your seeing.

(For the last few months I have been shooting almost exclusively with the X100F. I quickly realized that I didn’t need anything else).

Second, shift your focus from technical know-how to visual know-how. Observe light, work on your framing skills, find yourself an innovative visual project and pursue it. When looking at other people’s work, ignore the technical qualities but look for emotional punch, the arrangement of elements within the frame, lighting, etc.

Third, try to outsource most functions to your camera so you can focus on seeing and crafting the image. Turn off most information in your viewfinder so your frame stays unobstructed and free of technical clutter. Set up your ISO at Auto 200-6,400 and don’t be afraid of grain. If you have trouble with the manual focus, let the camera do it for you. I am always amazed how some photographic “gurus” grimace at people who use autofocus – I DO IT MOST OF THE TIME!

Fourth, avoid technical forums and discussions and instead focus on the visual qualities of each photograph.

Fifth, create two, simple, do-it-all presets – one for colour and one for black and white photography and apply them to all your photographs. I personally apply customised Classic Chrome and ACROS film simulations to 95% of my photographs. With one press of the button my images are processed and ready. Instead of dwelling on technical aspects I spend my time examining the visual aspects of each photograph. I often create a few images from one file by cropping the image in so many ways (I’ll write more about this great exercise soon).

Sixthspend more time with painters, sculptors and visual artists and talk to them about inspiration, lighting, artistic choices, etc. Extend your circle of photographic friends, lean toward those who talk about visual aspects of photography.

Seventh – print your work, create books, work on meaningful projects.

Most importantly, reclaim your joy of photography!

Feel free to share your own solutions – what works and what doesn’t!

 

It’s time to share some of my latest work.

This image is from my project “Encounters” – I have always been fascinated by random encounters on the streets of our cities and towns. I am sure you’ve glanced at a stranger passing by or someone sitting in a coffee shop and your sight locked for a split second, you don’t really know why. Are those fleeting encounters random or is the universe pulling us together for reasons we don’t know?

 

Here is more of our latest work shot mostly with the X-T2 and the XF 80mm F2.8 lens or the X-E3 paired with the XF 35mm F1.4

 

Next time…

 

 

NEW!

 

London / March 9 – 11, 2018

Berlin / March 16 – 18, 2018

Toronto / June 8 – 10, 2018

New York / June 15 – 17, 2018

Vancouver / August 10 – 12, 2018

Paris / September 21 – 23, 2018

San Francisco – November 2018

Sydney – late 2018

Make sure to reserve your spot early!

 

 

2018 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved

Summary of 2017 (Part 1)

Summary of 2017 (Part 1)


PIECES OF MY SEEING

In 2016, I decided “not to be afraid to be there” and “open my eyes not to what is in front of me but what is inside.”

This zest for seeing, the freedom to explore and the hunger for visual risk-taking has brought me to a new place of “unquiet presence.” As many of you have pointed out, my photography has changed, my writing has evolved and the olafphoto of 2017 is very different from olafphoto in 2016. Such turmoil has become the DNA of my photographic being.

THANK YOU

Photography is a strange calling. On the surface, it is a highly personal activity. However, even after the whole process of connecting, seeing and crafting the image, the final act doesn’t belong to the author – far from it. The image takes on a life of its own. This example of seeing enters someone else’s life, sometimes by accident, sometimes in a much more tacit way. The person decides to take a break from their day and connect with someone else’s seeing. Then, as the viewer applies their own feelings and visual sensibility, the image becomes a new experience, new visual in someone else’s eyes. It becomes an act on its own. 

Many of you did just that! What a privilege to have such an audience. Not only have you spent most of the year visiting, reading and viewing our imagery but you exchanged your views and feelings. I am so grateful for each interaction. Thanks to you, our photography comes alive; it becomes humanized and connected.

Your support means a lot to me!

THANK YOU TO OUR PRIVATE PATRONS

As much as some photographers would like to project the aura of never-ending success, supporting yourself exclusively from photography is not an easy feat. It is a constant struggle, which I have learnt to accept and enjoy. However, many projects would not be possible without financial support from generous individuals who see value in supporting art. This year we were privileged to receive a major donation from an amazing couple who started their photographic adventure in their 80s. By doing so they showed me that it is never too late to pursue your passion. Thank you so much for your friendship and generosity. Yes, against your wishes there will be an entire post about you upon the launch of our new project!  

THANK YOU, FUJIFILM

It has been another great year of cooperation with Fujifilm Canada, for which we are very grateful. Thank you for your hard work and support for the craft of seeing. Our big thanks to the entire team for putting up with us 🙂  

SIMPLICITY-IN-SEEING

Some of you stated a long time ago that you wanted more interaction, learning and exploring the world of seeing. That’s how Simplicity-In-Seeing was born in January 2017. From the beginning, my intention was to write and share more. I wanted a conversation with both beginning and accomplished photographers that centred on images. Your financial support allowed me and my small team to engage in the world of seeing on a much deeper level and by doing so, interact with you more often. The topics we talked about inspired us and sent our seeing in new directions. Yes, I say “us” because writing, as well as photography, is a form of conversation. As such, this conversation about light, seeing, composition and so on has been evolving through the year. We had a slow start but as the year progressed, Simplicity-In-Seeing grew rapidly. I know that many of you are looking for in-depth conversations about photography and quality materials to tackle the issues of seeing, rather than just technical know-how.

After this first year, I have a better idea where to go with Simplicity-In-Seeing; lots of new content will come your way in the New Year. We have already started live interactive conference calls so we can discuss our work as well as many photographic topics. Thank you again for your patronage. I’m looking forward to the New Year.

YouTube

Wow, I never thought I would go this route. I remember when we published our first video about the X100F – your response was phenomenal. Then we published another video and we had a similar, warm response. Then we paused, taking our time to figure out a direction for this new outlet. Your voice was clear and loud! “Olaf, just shut up, take your camera and shoot. We want to see you in action!” I couldn’t be happier. We decided to limit the talking, reviewing, gesticulating or adding fancy effects. Plenty of YouTube channels do this much better than we do.

Instead, we will do more live shooting. I will take my camera (most of the time X100F) and my videographer (Kasia) will follow me so you can see the process behind each image. No fancy talk, no bragging – just action on the streets of Vancouver, London, San Francisco, etc.

Plans for the New Year: there will be more videos, more often!

WORKSHOPS

When one of my students said, “I have learnt more in the first fifteen minutes of your workshop than on all other workshops I’ve taken, combined,” I knew that working on my Simplicity-In-Seeing program had paid off. Yes, some of my students are surprised on the first day but then as I watch how they grow, take visual risks and find the joy of seeing again – I am delighted. They start producing imagery which they never thought possible. This imagery is the greatest compliment I could receive (see our next post!).

Most importantly, we often become friends and stay in touch, exchanging ideas and learning from each other. Some of my students even decided to go further and booked private workshops with me to take their seeing to another level. More workshops are coming in 2018 in Vancouver, London, Berlin, Paris, Toronto, San Francisco and New York. We may even visit Sidney, Australia.

TOP 10 IMAGES OF THE YEAR

It is time for the top 10 images of the year. Reducing our work from the entire year to just ten images appeared to be an impossible task but…we did it. Making hard choices is one of the most difficult part of photography and we didn’t want to go easy route of sharing all our favourite images. Here they are!

 

RUNNERS-UP

   
In Part 2, we will share our choice of the camera of the year (you will be surprised!); explain why the Fujifilm X100F has become our only camera; mention some great people who work “behind the scenes;” provide you with some amazing links; show more of the best imagery of 2017 – this time from the road; and most importantly, show the best imagery of the year as taken by my students. We will also describe some amazing plans for 2018. You’ll want to see this post!

 

2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Take on the XF 80mm F2.8 OIS lens

First Take on the XF 80mm F2.8 OIS lens

I’m not going to write a full-fledged, all-in review of the brand new 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens. It’s not that this superb lens doesn’t deserve one. It does! However, Jonas Rask (check out the October issue of the FujiLove Magazine) and others have already done a marvellous job of writing about this glass and I don’t think I can add much to it.

Having said that, as per multiple requests, I will share a lot of imagery taken with this lens in the next few weeks so you can judge for yourself and decide if this lens fits your needs. In general, I am not a telephoto person. My seeing feels most comfortable at 14mm, 23mm and 56mm focal lengths (21, 35 and 85 in FF terms).

I do love challenges, however, which often lead me to visual risk-taking. When I attached this new lens to the X-T2 I was heading out and shooting with this lens exclusively. There was no looking in my bag for another lens, no distractions of “the other possibilities.” My seeing was forced to search for new visuals.

Here are my first thoughts:

  • It is quite a large lens. It feels uncomfortable on the X-E3 or even X-T2. I prefer an optional battery grip for the X-T2 while shooting with this lens. With the grip, it feels much more stable and comfortable.
  • The build is top notch as is the case with all Fujinon XF lenses.
  • It is a weather-resistant (WR) lens – perfect for our Project R-A-I-N. I have been shooting with multiple WR lenses and cameras in pouring rain and have never experienced any issue.  
  • The OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) works flawlessly. For someone who shoots mostly from the hand and at this focal length, the stabilization is a life-saver.
  • The autofocus is quick – no problem there (hey, this is coming from a very slow photographer).
  • It’s a super sharp glass – so sharp that I had to scale back my usual sharpening settings. Some even say that it could be too sharp for portraiture work. I don’t know yet. I need more time to find out.
  • The micro-contrast is stunning and appears to be one notch better than other XF lenses.
  • The bokeh is beautiful but not as creamy as the XF 90mm lens (very early thought – I may flip on this one later on).

Okay, enough of this wittering. Let’s focus on imagery – all taken with the X-T2 and the XF 80mm F2.8 WR OIS lens.

 

 

 

2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.

From Fujifilm X100 to FujiLove

From Fujifilm X100 to FujiLove

What a journey it has been so far! I remember reading a press release about the upcoming Fujifilm X100 camera. I glanced at the image of this small, classy but unusual camera and had the feeling our paths would cross in the future. Strange, I thought! It was talking to me.

It was not long ago that I was lying in a hospital bed immobilized and connected to life-support machinery. I spent hours, days, months staring at the wall in my room. It wasn’t a normal wall, however. It was pasted with drawings by my four-year-old son and photos of my wife, family and friends. Those visuals kept me alive and sane during this highly troubling time.

In this hospital room I made a pact with destiny – if I survive this ordeal I will embark on a new path in my life. I didn’t know back then that by gazing intensely at these drawings and imagery – those precious visuals – I had already taken the first steps along a new path.

My recovery was long and gruelling, from learning how to walk, to putting up with an exhausting schedule of dialysis. If that wasn’t enough, another strange thing happened. A total stranger appeared in my life, donating a kidney and saving my life but, most importantly, giving my full life back. There is more. As we became friends with Madeleine, during one of our meetings she brought me two photography magazines. Why? I don’t know. Maybe she knew, she sensed my new calling…

And then, this small, classy, quirky camera showed up. It wasn’t long before I was running around like a kid… with a new camera, a new kidney and radically new seeing.

It all led to visual explorations, my blog, olafphoto, Simplicity-In-Seeing, and new professional and personal friendships – at this point my direction was clear.

Somewhere along the way I came across FUJILOVE. What a strange name, I thought! In no time, I became a fan of this new world of ALL THINGS FUJI. Right from the beginning, the FUJILOVE MAGAZINE was my favourite.

The combination of great photography and the written word has always fascinated me. They have so much in common. You must use all of yourself, your life experiences, your feelings and your visual wit to arrange elements in photography and create what’s uniquely yours. It is similar in writing – you take words and arrange them into a beautiful whole.

Tomash, an editor and talented photographer himself, has been working very hard to make sure each issue of the magazine is absolutely the best. No wonder that so many great contributors such as Jonas Rask, Patrick LaRoque, Palle Schulz, Charlene Winfried, Spencer Wynn, Michael Schnabl, Damian Lovegrove and many others have shared their stunning photography and writing.

I am so excited to announce that starting in the January 2018 issue I will be joining FujiLove Magazine with a new, thought-provoking and image-centred column titled, “Simplicity-In-Seeing.”

Thank YOU all for your support, kindness and patronage.

Now the journey continues… 

It’s only fitting if I share with you some selected imagery taken during those years of self-discovery (all with the X-series cameras and lenses).  

On The Street

On The Road

 

 

 

2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.

 

Writing visual poetry with R-A-I-N

Writing visual poetry with R-A-I-N

It’s been almost three years since we started working on our R-A-I-N project. Since then we have not only embraced shooting in the R-A-I-N but have also fallen in love with it. I feel that photographing on sunny days is like writing a job assignment but shooting in the R-A-I-N is like writing a poem. It’s incredibly inconvenient due to the technical challenges of course, but also more difficult from a seeing perspective.

Everything around you is subtle, masked, almost hidden. When all the natural elements are hassling your body, you must concentrate twice as hard. You must observe more intensely and craft the imagery from very scarce elements. Then there is the light or rather lack of it. At least that appears to be the case for those who are not looking. It was certainly the hardest part when I started this project. However, with time you learn to see the light in different dimensions – even the slightest glimmer makes a difference. As I said, this is a subtle process.

The project R-A-I-N has also reinforced my stand on something else. In this almost psychotic search for sharpness, I embraced un-sharpness. This silky, hazy, muted appearance is something I often look for in my seeing. In this way I find images that are not plastic, perfect and surgical but rather poetic and frail as if they have soul. I am well aware that many of you will disagree but something is telling me that the age of sharpness in digital photography is coming to an abrupt end (topic for another discussion). Shouldn’t it be all about rendition and mood?

Then there’s colour. There is no question that we all long for perfect early morning or late afternoon light. This light spices up our images and gives them a new dimension. I never thought that R-A-I-N could do the same – or even more – until I started shooting extensively in rainy conditions. What colour! What depth!

Interestingly, these are not my favourite R-A-I-N images! For me the real visual poetry comes from a fusion of R-A-I-N and the atmosphere of the black and white film or simulation. These images are not loud or always easy for consumption but somehow stay with me longer. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know.

There is so much more I would like to share with you about this project but I should probably stop for now. Just yesterday I was shooting new material for the project, some of which you will find below plus some older imagery. I am also writing an in-depth “HOW IT WAS SHOT” series about R-A-I-N project for my Simplicity-In-Seeing subscribers, which I will share on this blog.

For those of you who would like to fall in love with photographing R-A-I-N, I would like to invite you to my Project R-A-I-N: Photography Workshop here in Vancouver, February 23-15, 2018. During this unique workshop, we will be studying and working together to produce a special and different body of work. So if you are crazy enough to dream, see and write poetry with R-A-I-N and want to do something new and exciting with your photography, join me in Vancouver. Look forward to seeing you there!

Here is our imagery, all taken with the X-Pro2 and various lenses.

 

and R-A-I-N in B&W…

 

 

 

2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.

 

 

Visual Cleansing

Visual Cleansing

It has been an incredibly busy but rooted summer. At the beginning of 2016 we made no plans or visual resolutions but wanted to “keep shedding our photographic skin.” It is remarkable how this constant foraging into new ways of seeing has kept us motivated and fresh. If there is one commonly repeated misconception about photography is that you have to find “your own style.” NO, you don’t. I know too many photographers who “found their style” and their photography became static and sterile.

Mind you, from a commercial perspective, manufacturing the same visuals is probably a smart thing to do. After all, there are so many good formulas and presets for popular imagery. If you want your seeing to evolve, however, you need to operate closer to the cliff. That’s why I cherish going through the work of young, emerging photographers. Even though their craft may need some refinement, their ideas and seeing are so fresh, individual, bold and edgy. It is even more stimulating talking to such new artists – there is no ego, pretence or brand – nothing to cherish or protect but everything to change and disrupt. The question is: How do you retain the visual mindset of a start-up photographer?

A few weeks ago, someone (sorry, forgot who) came up with a bold idea: What if a photographer decided to delete all her/his images? I mean all of them (the entire catalogue) and start anew. This includes all imagery on social accounts! This brave idea has shaken me up. No, I am not ready to do that just yet but the concept reinforced my belief in “visual cleansing” – abandoning your comfortable way of seeing and pioneering new ways of seeing the world around you. This includes erasing all the preconceived ideas of how the imagery is observed and crafted.

What do you think?

I am writing an extensive article about this topic which should find its way to this blog shortly. For now, here is some imagery from our recent seeing session in San Francisco – all taken with the X100F.

 

 

 

2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.