After many years of following an aimless approach to photography, if an approach can be said to be aimless, things now seem to be moving in a particular direction. …

I was never that uncomfortable in being aimless. Indeed, there is something liberating about it, taking each picture as it comes and not being in thrall to a project or technique.

So, I have flitted between camera types, formats, subject-matters, printing techniques and so on. Pictures taken by people like me never end up in galleries or magasine articles – there is no underlying story, no consistency, nothing to hang on to.

However is there a price to be paid for a lack of direction? Surely to be very good at something requires single-mindedness? The answer must surely be ‘yes’! I know a very highly ranked Aikido teacher who, when under duress, is so effortless, relaxed and free in his movements. But this has taken him 60 years of daily practice in the basics to achieve. Nothing comes from a lack of self-discipline. And so it is with photography too.

I have enjoyed many years dabbling in photography. Although I have probably been too concerned about what camera, lens, film, developer and paper (etc) I use, I have learned much from dabbling. It has been enjoyable. But I now find that I am not getting what I want from my photography. And so this concern over direction.

I have two ambitions for this winter in my darkroom. Firstly I want to consistently produce good oil prints. I think that good oil prints (and bromoils, which are a type of oil print) are exquisite. Secondly, I want to start Salt printing. Both printing techniques are finicky and need patience and persistence.

I have also decided to sell some of my cameras and lenses. Simplification will help me. I like the idea of ‘one camera-one lens’ approach – that is, making the limitations of a system work for you. Also, some of my cameras just do not get used. It’s a waste.

3 thoughts on “Photographic direction

  1. It has been difficult the past two years being so restricted in spontaneous travel so you are right in having a plan I have decided on a single topic of trees specially in winter when their shapes are not buried in leaves!

  2. This post strikes so close to home, it is as if I wrote it myself. I too have dabbled in photography for years, and I have been down all the rabbit holes. Large format, alternative, multiple medium formats, exotic chemistries, etcetera, etcetera. I am done with that now. I recently sold several large format lenses, two 5×7’s, and a medium format rangefinder. I am now down to one camera, one lens and one film. Fuji 6×9 range finder with 90mm lens and Kentmere 100 film. The rest of my kit includes a handheld light meter, a couple of filters, cable release, and a tripod. It is so liberating! Inspired by Thomas Joshua Cooper’s practice.

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