The Action of Attraction
Our contemporary world combines the digital and the analog in most things. Whether we are thinking about images online or a light show in your neighborhood, aesthetics matter. There is more to art than merely a pursuit of the beautiful, but it would be foolish to underestimate the power of its experience. You need go no further than to witness West Cliff in Santa Cruz during a Winter sunset. Throngs of sky watchers crowd the cliffs drinking in the changing light and gasping as the clouds become a temporary canvas unrivaled by human efforts. The same is true with photos posted online. The beautiful images get more play.
Authenticity and Aesthetics
One of the dangerous things about our current age for artists is the tendency for feedback to alter your approach to art making. It is all too easy to let the data influence your artistic choices. If this type of photograph got a lot of likes and shares, then it is tempting to repeat that in hopes of increasing your following. Many artists believe that allowing what the audience thinks to influence your style. Indeed, there is a fine line between sharing what you love and what you know will get you love. The trick, I’ve found, if discovering those areas of overlap where you feel good about what you are publishing and the public does, too.
Keeping Your Thumb on the Pulse
For me, it is equally important to spend time hunting the world for images both beautiful and intriguing and to pay attention to the ever changing culture online. It is only by doing this work that you can discover that fruitful zone where what you truly love and what the public wants are a match. The exciting thing about this process is that both are constantly changing. Spending time walking through the world looking and absorbing the details and finding enchanting scenes is as important as understanding the technical aspects of photography and online marketing. You have to both understand the spirit of the times as it reveals itself to us through the Internet and the particular qualities of beauty and intrigue that exist fleetingly in our physical world.
A Shining Light in Dark Times
Part of what Internet culture reveals to us is the presence of extremely disturbing problems. From the opioid epidemic, to mass shootings, there is no shortage of tragedy that happens every single day. This has become so predominant that we are becoming a very strange culture. One response is to create more and more disturbing content. The American public has become obsessed with true crime and particularly serial killers, among the darkest examples of human potential for destruction. The reasons for this trend are many, but one of them must be a kind of coping mechanism to deal with the daily news. Bad things are happening, and many people are immunizing themselves emotionally by exposing themselves to the worst of the worst. In this context, striving to create beautiful images serves as a counterpoint and requires a tremendous courage. The easier thing is to follow the numbers and to create disturbing imagery and controversial content.
Adapting to the Conditions
I have been walking around various Santa Cruz neighborhoods during the day and at night to get exercise, to scout for images I want to make, and to study the world around me. As the period between Christmas and New Year’s has come to an end, I have been focusing on some of the amazing light shows that people have created. Last night, it was raining making a walk with my camera inadvisable, but I decided to shoot two scenes from within the safety of my car. Setting up the tripod on the seat, I composed some photographs and used the window to add another element.
Abstraction in Photography
With a background in painting and a true love for modern and abstract art, I have always enjoyed using a camera to make images that are non-objective. This task is difficult even with a paintbrush, but when you use a camera it is even more challenging. I enjoy using lights and long exposures to soak up the colors without any discernible forms. This reduces the image to line and color and I find it to be fun and interesting. What do you think? Do you like the abstract images or the realistic ones better?
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