Streets of Philadelphia … A Visual Diary … Page 55 … Olympus TG-4 … Justifying Intent


What the hell does, “Justifying Intent mean”? Don’t ask me, I wrote this in hope someone could explain it to me and more importantly, justify my reasons for writing and making photos and damn, even justifying why the hell I’m even here on the planet walking around. Ya know, Intent is a very well described, defined AMBIGUOUS word.

Yes, that’s some sort of an oxymoron. Well, I know I’m stretching out here but I have Doc’s approval. Hold on now. Yes, I have a GOV’T certified Shrink and he helps me with the people in my head. So, I may be kinda crazy but I’m certifiable crazy and that means if you don’t have a shrink dealing with the little people in your head, well…. who’s really crazy? So, if intent is a clearly defined word and it’s meanings are defined, how can it also be ambiguous? Well, the way I see things is like this:


My intent is to make photos. I also like to show them and get comments. So Intent has now expanded to be more open to others than just me. I don’t mean the others in my head, they get their say from time to time.  I mean viewers. They have an intent that is ambiguous to me. Iwould like to think that I understand why they are looking at the photos but I’m crazy granted, but damn, I sure as hell ain’t stupid.

Maybe someone is looking to figure out what camera I use, someone else is interesded in how I processed, presented all kinds of reasons and yet the most important reason is,… no, not WHY I made the photos but they look because they like looking at photos. All the reasons are wrapped up in thier intent. So, what goes on is what I call….Mutual Cooperating Intent Procedures.

Why did I bother to write this? Well my intent is to justify my reasons for being a photographer and a hack writer. The key issue becomes, do I work for me? I mean if I am truely working for me, then my eye, heart and mind are in tact and focused on my intent as a Human Being with a camera. I’ll let the others be photographers. The realization of that intent comes to birth when I look at the photos and then see my stance in the world, visually in those images. If that were the final destination then all would be well. I would be totally content and be able to get on with my life.

Well, unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the melting iceberg. Global warming has an effect on all artist. If viewers are looking at our work? Yes OUR and youse don’t get off that easy here. We are all in this together. “We need a bigger boat chief”. I don’t mind driving the boat here but youse are passengers so get used to it.

The viewer is looking at the photos. Do we let that influence what we do and at what point does that influence start? If we take the stance that the viewer is the end result of satisfaction, are we really working for ourself or are we working for the potential of viewers? It is not the same stance, not at all.

The photos above are ones that I like. I made them and are the sourse of them. I am responsible for what you see as a catylist that stirs your thoughts. I’m sorry to have to say this but for these photos, I don’t really give a dame who sees them and who likes ordislikes them.

Myintent was and is that I make these photos and I comitt to them as my children and love them even if they are not great kids.

I don’t always feel that way or work that way but for these, there’s no doubt that I don’t give a shit! So I suppose that means, for these photos, my intent was and is to make them for me to appreciate and not care about about anything further. Maybe that’s kinda selfish and not doing photography justice because ultimately, photos need to communicate with others.

So, someplace in these thoughts is my intent. If you find it, it’s because you are good at understanding what I’m babbling about. If not, that’s cool too.

The issue isn’t what my intent is for working, but what is yours?




10 thoughts on “Streets of Philadelphia … A Visual Diary … Page 55 … Olympus TG-4 … Justifying Intent”

  1. Just don’t care. And i’m sure you don’t…………… Listen what other people think if you want. But if you let what other people see and think influence you………….you will not be making your photos………..and it’s that that counts. Do you have to justify anything to yourself? No………. s

    1. Sally, thanks for your thoughts. I must admit that I am not an island and neither is anyone. I think what I’m getting at here is a way to live with oneself and one’s work. The idea of intent is not defined by a single definition. And then to factor in the few hundred or more people that are on the planet. I am told there are many more but I don’t believe it.
      So, being aware of intent allows direction and freedom in work and vision.

      I’m writing more about this tomorrow…. stay tuned…….

  2. My intention/purpose? I had to look those words up just to be sure I knew what felt them to mean. Intention, it says over there, requires forethought. The only forethought I have is to carry a camera. Hopefully to recognize a piece of myself, my feelings in the things/people around me and document them, to help justify my place in the world. There’s more to this, but I’ve only had one coffee so far.

    My favorite quote will help a bit –

    I’m always looking outside, trying to look inside.
    Trying to tell something that’s true.
    But maybe nothing is really true.
    Except what’s out there.

    -Robert Frank

    1. Keith, there is no set rule or guideline for most things in life. It’s what we agree to accept and do with others. Intent should be a personal understanding and maybe shared with some others if we open ourselves to that.
      Well, that’s my thought on it but not all. It was nor is my intent to be so specific.

  3. Oh lest I forget. I had a great mentor who once said, “You put images on the wall and you stand over there. What’s important is how that space is filled between you and what’s on the wall.” (Something like that.)

    1. Yes, kinda like that. the reason for framing and MATTING photos is really to isolate the photo best we can from the surroundings. This way the info comes to us and hopefully little distraction from the surroundings.
      This lets the INTENT of the shooter sing clearly…. well…until we start to think.

  4. As photographers, or people with cameras, we really should be shooting for ourselves first and foremost. However, a lot of times will let what others want to see him today. I personally would love to just go out and shoot for myself, but a lot of times I’ll find myself tossing shots that I think are pretty good because I think other people that like them. Great article, Don!

    1. Everyone does that Tina and we shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting gratification from our work and it’s visitors. Just don’t let that be the guiding light.

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