Thoughtful Thursday: Photographic Intention
March 29, 2012
Based on a recent suggestion from Strongblonde in a comment on my post about blank pages in my mother’s photo album, today we’ll be thinking about photographic intention.
Why do you take the photos you do? What do you hope to get out of it?
Historically, a lot of my photographic intention was a combination of aesthetics and capturing moments. One big feature of my travel photography is that I take very few photos just of sights; I always work DH into the shot (or, I set up the shot for him and switch places, or I balance the camera on a post and set the timer).
A friend of mine couldn’t be more opposite. He has been everywhere (seriously, everywhere — 7 continents, and most of the countries on most of those continents). He takes brilliant photos wherever he goes. He will send me 400 photos (culled from several thousand) of a trip, and he will be in 3 of them. Instead, he takes not only the typical wide shots of monuments, but photos of those same monuments from unusual, artistic angles; detailed macros of architectural details; slice-of-life photos of locals. Once he and I went to a historical site; we each walked away with over a hundred of photos, with literally zero overlap in the shots we’d taken.
With Burrito and Tamale, my main goal is comprehensive documentation. That, and the hope of capturing their cuteness.
When they were infants, we went on a little boat ride with my friend and her kids. Burrito and Tamale were too little to know they were on a boat. My friend commented that her goal for the ride (and most activities) was her kids’ subjective experience, often leading her to end up with no photos, whereas my goal was clearly to end up with photos of the babies on the boat. It’s not that I ignore children’s experiences; it’s just that I also want to have a nearly exhaustive record of these years.
At this age, if I don’t take photos, it will exist only in my memory, since they won’t remember this age long-term. By documenting everything, they can relive their old experiences. Here’s one of your many hayrides last fall. Here you are on an airplane. Here you are with your cousin. Here you are with your late grandmother. Some photos help them prep for the next similar experience. Other photos document something that will never happen again in their lives — and the photo will be all they have.
What is your photographic intention?