Why and How: Developing a Photographic Consciousness – Part 2
A Definition of Photographic Consciousness
Above all, it is necessary to define the word “consciousness”.
By definition, “consciousness” is the ability to perceive oneself, to identify oneself, to think and to behave appropriately. It is what we feel, what we know about others and the world.
The goal of consciousness is to know how to define oneself in relation to others.
If we extrapolate this to photography, we can say that
Why: Developing a Photographic Consciousness
If you want to create interesting photos, you need to create different pictures than other photographers. This is an essential condition.
Take the case of all photographers who simply copy or reproduce a style that another photographer has created or developed. Their photos are destined to be pale copies of original works.
When they are going to show or exhibit their photographs, they will hear that it is déjà vu. They will not even be watched or analyzed by critics. Copies will have been seen before, thus they lack the spark of interest.
Emotionally, these photographers will be affected. They will quickly become discouraged. Finally, they may stop photographing altogether. I think it is a shame because some of these photographers have great talent. However, they did not take the time to develop it. They wanted to proceed quickly in their work by creating fashionable photos, which unfortunately, did not last.
If they took photographic time into consideration by analyzing the photographic approach of other photographers, they could have better defined themselves and asserted their own style.
Developing a photographic awareness allows you to define your own photographic personality, your signature and your artistic approach.
The Consequences on Your Artistic Creativity
If you take the time to develop a photographic awareness, the following consequences will become visible to you:
- You will see that your nature photographs are becoming more and more interesting.
- You will focus more on your own personal photo projects.
- You will not waste time making photos that sit on your computer without ever being shown to an audience.
- You will create photographic works with an authentic meaning that is consistent throughout the series.
- You will create interesting photographs.
- Some people will praise you on your artistic approach.
- Your motivation will increase.
- You will want to please you audience.
- You will continue to create interesting photos.
- You will have a solid role to play.
- You will use your creativity to set your own little brick in the building of humanity, which will be useful to others.
It is this virtuous circle that I apply in my photographic process. It is a true pleasure.
How to Develop a Photographic Consciousness
Once you understand why you need to develop photographic awareness, it is necessary to give yourself the means to define it.
Different solutions are available to you:
- The first solution is to document about other photographers who are in your field of artistic and photographic activity. To accomplish this, browse websites and purchase books that they have published. Read all the writings related to these photographers.
- The second solution is to visit all museums dedicated to photography or all photo exhibitions. I think that this is an amazing way to progress in the development of photographic consciousness. For my part, I often extend this field of investigation to national museums which exhibit painters, draftsmen, and sculptors. It is a very important and rich source of inspiration.
- The third solution is to participate in photo workshops. Personally, I participate in one or two classes a year. This allows me to confront photographers who have better skills than mine in certain areas. Workshops are unique moments to meet and exchange points of view. I always look for workshops with a good atmosphere in which the tutor is primarily a facilitator who shares his own knowledge, but also promotes the exchange of ideas between participants. Classes, in my opinion, are a great way to develop a photographic awareness in relation to others.
- The fourth solution is contests. You must search for contests where you will receive feedback on your photos. Contests for which you receive a letter telling you that your photos have been selected or not selected are useless fo the development of a photographic consciousness. You must look for contests or competitions which will give you an in-depth critical review of your work(s). Personally, I participate in four competitions a year. I present four photographs each time. Fees are required, but I gain a video from the jury commenting on my photos. These fees are nothing compared to the interests of those remarks. This is a real plus for me.
Tools for Developing a Photographic Consciousness
You are certainly wondering what sort of tools should be used to develop a photographic consciousness.
They are very simple to find. You have them all at your disposal.
Personally, I use a notebook and a pen. Every morning I wake up at 6 o'clock. I take my book, and I prop myself against two pillows to be as comfortable as possible in my bed. Then I write. All the columns you read on the blog are written this way.
At first, I write the idea that I wish to develop into the form of a title. Later, I will write several sentences and ideas that I have dwelled on for some time. Finally, I write the body of the text itself. I refrain from implementing a word limit.
Although I do not abide by a word limit, I do adhere to a time limit when writing. Every morning, I give myself 45 minutes to develop my photographic consciousness. Then I take 45 minutes to develop my marketing actions.
For some mornings, I have found that a pause in brainstorming is the best way to rephrase specific ideas, formalize them, and develop them.
I also sometimes revise texts already written. I correct them. I modify them. I update texts according to any new information that I have encountered.
My photographic consciousness evolves with time. Nothing is fixed. When I meet new photographers or new people, I question myself, and new ideas constantly arise.
This is what I call the plasticity of photographic consciousness.
Photographic plasticity is the ability to adapt and to change according to encounters and events while maintaining your own photographic approach.
My Advice for You
If I had any advice to give you, it would be to define a fixed time slot every day or every other day, where you can isolate yourself and take time to develop your photographic consciousness.
Think, think, think. Disregard the outside world. Develop your ideas.
Define your photographic artistic approach. Decide what you like in photography. For example, specify exactly what you most enjoy composing and what methods work for you. In short, everything that sparks your artistic creativity is worth continuing.
Write a text for each point. Do not try to make a long text that summarizes information that has already been stated. This would be a waste of time and a mistake. Be fragmented in your approach, and you will experience greater productivity.
I hope this article has opened your mind to a new way of approaching photography. If you feel that you have reached your limits in artistic creativity, I guarantee you that this way of looking at photography will allow you to expand your horizons. Your imagination alone is your limit. This is one of the ways to create photographs that make sense and are interesting.