In the early days of photography the aim was to document moments in time. Documentation was limited to historic occasions e.g. for newspapers or to document family trees of those who could afford it. This is the crude one dimensional photography of the early days namely documentation which later became the purpose to „tell a story“.
This changed as picture quality of photography increased over the decades and people got more and more interested in aesthetics and beauty photography was able to deliver. This is the second dimension of photography – the looks.
So we can assume by the early and mid 20th century we had a balanced two dimensional photography.
Nowadays is a bit different though: the overkill of todays media paired with the capabilities of high end technology made photography again a bit one-dimensional. Lets take the Eisenhower principle to illustrate that:
We draw a two dimensional matrix and assign „looks“ to the axis of abscissae and assign „story“ to the axis of ordinates.
In this matrix we have four main areas of „expertise“, so lets just make a 2×2 grid in there.
We fill now the „expertise“ areas with life. In the left bottom corner we have the field of poor story and poor beauty – called „trash“. This is the normal consumer snapshot photography, e.g. you can think of any bad composed/exposed tourist photo everybody does (me too by the way).
Those are the pictures which do not mean anything to any other human beings. But lets proceed to the next level – botto right: „beauty“. This is the most „important“, or should I say „dominant“ expertise in photography we can observe these days. People simply love seeing beautiful stuff, most important ones are sunsets and beautiful/brarely colthed women. There is tons of it! TONS!
And this is consequently the area where you can earn money with. Beatuy sells! The need for beauty is that big that you cannot see any wrinkels of the women any more/ tight bodies everywhere, young, sexy and successful, within sceneries of flaming sunsets and rediculous blue oceans. When we stream through the media these days it seems like photography has been condensed to only that dimension. (I am so sick of sunsets, cannot stand them anymore, I made some shots of them by myself to get at least a handful of likes).
Bad thing is that consumer photographers like us begin to copy the „pros“ and produce the same soulless shit without any true susbtance – leading to more happy-shiny-people bullshit that is drowning our minds.
Did I hear the word „substance“? Next station is: substance.
Seldom we see it, mainly when we stumble over newspapers reports about bad, bad things happening somewhere – far, far away… A business for sure is also connected to that „expertise“ area, but at least you have to be a war photographer with a short life expectancy to get some cash in return. So this is a pebbly path and there is no place/time for beauty, it is about facts….or manipulating facts….but thats another story….
So the question of questions is now: what the hell is happening in the upper right corner of our Eisenhower matrix? What the hell happens when we combine substance and beauty? BANG!
This is „E K S“! Epic Killer Shit, man! This is the holy grail of photography, this is where every god damn shot should aim at! And this is where only a few shots really end up with – most of them are doomed in the beauty mud and have lost their souls to understand that. And dont get me wrong: I am also operating from the beaut/trash mud, far away from EKS, early, early learning curve…To get EKS no photoshop will help me, no Leica will help me, no super Canon-L-Glas will help me – and the model I am shooting wont help me either.
Only a lot of practice will bring me there/ combined with the branding on my skin that says: „add some substance, douchebag!“
The question is then: what is substance? It is giving your pictures a soul, a story, something personal from yourself, something you are passionate to share with others, to show others what you have seen, what you have felt, what others might have felt. Adding a puzzle to the viewers mind that makes them remember that shot. And there are plenty of riddles around us, the most severe among all: what the hell are we doing here on this giant ball, called earth, raging through the universe, lost in space and time, like raindrops in the ocean…