February 3rd, 2014 ….. Defining The Self Thru Your Photos ….. Part 2

01-14-0604Minor White impressed upon me the importance of intent. To be perfectly honest, I grasped the words, concepts, thoughts, feelings etc and stored them in my brains memory stick. When I returned to Philly I felt enlightened but still I needed confirmation of all this by my mentor, Ding. I explained everything to Ding and he looked at me and asked me…”Don, the lesson Minor was teaching you was about intent. By questioning the information you gathered, you question his intent”. I didn’t mean anything to be an insult, I just wanted to make sure I understood all of it before I spent the rest of my life living it. After breathing all this, one day it came upon me and jit me like a log on the head. That felt very normal because my wife made me feel that way many times.


The point! I talk about the here and now a lot. What that really is in a simple meaning is….CONCENTRATION! An intrusion is something that breaks your CONCENTRATION. Working with the Eye, Heart and Mind is nothing more than being aware of what you are doing and having total concentration to be focused at the moment of realization and exposure.

Yeah, yeah….Realization is when your working your subject matter and all the sudden, you have an awareness that there is a photo waiting for you to make it borne. When that happens you must be free from distractions of all sorts and be at the ready to release the shutter.

Disclaimer. What I am talking about may not fit everyone that makes photos but I guarantee if you are of the serious nature like me….it means a lot and makes perfect sense. I am totally aware that many do not live photography as serious as I and others. So, if this is too heavy or it seems that you are not at the right place….don’t sweat it.

Here’s another thing to consider. There are at least 2 important regions for intent in photography. The first region of intent is the camera. This area of course is using the camera, finding the subject, capturing the image. There is more involved but I’m sure if you made it this far in the post, you understand what I’m explaining. The second area is the processing formula.

The second area is where many fall short of their expectations. You have to open you mind and let different things enter it to discover the INTENT in this region.

I’m going under the gun here…..I’m on the street. I have the XPRO1 with the 28mm (28mm) on. I’m using a wrist strap and just walking as I do, slowly looking, seeking an image. I can smell the homeless man on my left….front right is a really cute girl with above the knee skirt and hair set in Jersey style. I can hear the traffic, buses, cars, motorcycles, peropl talking, cursing, hustling up and down all over.

All this stuff around me is information, info for me to respond and react when I find the image. All the sudden the light gets really strong, a woman walks out in front of me….I immediately raise the camera and the exposure says, 1/250 f/8. I right away set the camera to 1/250 f/4. This makes an over exposure photo by about 2 stops. WHY!!!!!!?

Well, I knew at a glance that I would want to make this into a Dreamcatcher image. I want the high tones to just go away. I finally get home and load the card into the computer. LightRoom 5 starts and I get the files into the folder. (More about organization later) I look at the image of the woman crossing in front of me and I see the high tones blown.

My initial intent was to capture the image and then the second intent is to process it. This is the act of rephotographing, rediscovery if you like. It is not written in the bible that an image captured must be the best representation of the subject as possible. I want to discover the image for what it brings to me or communicates to me. If very often has not much representation of the reality in which it was recorded. So what!?

01-14-0608Here’s where we challenge the Intent of Intent. I wonder if Picasso got frustrated by painting on canvas and being stuck in 2 Dimensions. There was this Artist named DUCHAMP that saw things differently. He made a very famous piece named, “Fountain”.  A fountain is most often thought as a place where water comes out. Many people saw his fountain as a Urinal, a place where urine goes in. I’ve seen enough urinals in my life to recognize one when I see it but when I see DuChamp’s, I see a fountain.

Picasso may have been influenced by the shooters around him when he discovered and presented Cubism. I would think that Cubism looks something like a flattened perspective of 3 dimensional reality on a 2 dimensional canvas. Lets stretch this somewhat and say that maybe, just maybe…photography does a similar thing….seems crazy huh?

I see many, many shooters tied to the 3 dimensional world in their photos. They are concerned with the finest resolution, the most accurate tonal range duplication, the reproduction of every detail recorded to the best ability of the shooter and camera alike. There is nothing wrong with this.

We as people are bombarded by the rules, preconceptions, guidelines and everything that can stifle us into behaving as normal or set sent back to the factory. As photographers, we have a responsibility to the image. We have a responsibility to photography itself and we have a responsibility to ourselves as shooters and as viewers. What the heck are you getting at shooter? 


At the precise moment of release, all that you are is captured in the frame. We try to be as normal as possible but yet we strive for exceptional work. When we get to the processing part of the image, the same thing happens whether you are aware of it or not. You are now at the point to try to define the image. Sure, it’s easy to just try to make the image as close to what we think of reality as possible but wait!!!!!!

Working your photography is not only about finding great images, but about finding who you really are. So why restrict your vision by trying to work within a box that you see as the frame…..why not see that frame as a window and see many possibilities for the birth of the image and of course yourself. See, it’s like this….if what you do with a camera effects the outcome of your image, it stands to reason that the final image should effect what you do with the camera.

If your out there making photos and your not looking for yourself, who are you looking for?



17 thoughts on “February 3rd, 2014 ….. Defining The Self Thru Your Photos ….. Part 2”

    1. Dan, thanks. I agree with what posted about my post but in the end …every photo we make is a self portrait. The idea of a photo being a reflection in a mirror is as true as, well anything. The thing for me is to discover when that realization happens…..

  1. I could not agree more, start with intent to shot and produce a photograph. Then by being engrossed both in shooting and processing one can loose themselves opening up the possibilities.

    1. Lynn, exactly the right idea. So this leads to the discovery of the self and it’s intent.
      Thanks for stopping by….don

    2. Lynn, exactly the right idea. So this leads to the discovery of the self and it’s intent.

      Thanks for stopping by….don

        1. hmmmm, methinks your seeing the same Doctor that I am. His philosophy of the psychiatry of my self is exactly that but here in Philly, spit on a well greased hot skillet will s[read the work nicely…..

          1. at 7200′ in Santa Fe, quantum mechanics are a little different but end up being the same… thoughts are send on the wind, and I like the Doctor.

          2. we doin’ need no quantum anythings ’round here on phillyadelphia. Only quantum I bemembers was some flash stuff from the film dayz. I’m told to live life digitally and that all things analog are just a dream……

  2. There are those times when you click the shutter, you may not like what you see. I sometimes let them sit awhile in a folder before processing. Let the images and myself get acquainted over time. Sometimes, I just don’t recognize myself, but when we finally do see what first prompted me to release the shutter, it’s like “Oh yeah! I was there all the time!”.

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