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Friday, March 04, 2011


Photography as art

When I was much younger, I painted. Perhaps over the years I've become lazy and now I express myself with photography.

I wasn't the best artist around but I had certain principles that I worked by. At the time I was aware of artists who were very competent but they basically painted the same picture over and over with just a few minor changes; enough so that the person who bought it thought it was original. Perhaps they weren't particularly creative and they probably didn't improve much or learn much as artists but if you took a look at one of the many versions of their 'safe' painting you had to admit it was good.

I believe that art is about taking risks. My philosophy of art was that if I didn't learn something from each painting I created, I was wasting my time. My work wasn't conventional. I had to be pushing boundaries with each painting I created. This meant that probably none of my pictures looked perfect. I didn't care, that wasn't what I was aiming for. I never tried to sell my paintings. That wasn't my goal. I was doing them as a way of testing ideas I had about art. Was I any good? That's not for me to say but I did win some minor prizes in local art competitions and when I sat for the NSW Higher School Certificate my major work (shown here) helped to get me into the top 10% of art students for that year.

I believe that I can apply the same principles to photography. I feel I am more able to do this now that I have a camera that allows me to explore possibilities. Sure I take a lot of 'safe' shots too, especially when I want something quickly. But I enjoy myself most as a photographer when I take risks and push the boundaries. I often find when I admire another photographer's work and ask them how they achieved it that they have done so using mostly automatic settings. I'm trying to learn by using manual focus and other manual settings. It means that my pictures might not be as perfect as the photos of my friends but I'm learning just as I did with each of my paintings. I'm not aiming for 'safe' pictures. I'm aiming for something a little different. I don't want them all to look the same. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but if it fulfils my goal of learning something new each time, then I'm a happy photographer.

Donna at Barney Downs
John Shield, acrylic on canvas, 1980

My photos

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