When the going gets tough

As a beginner in photography, making pictures was easy. I’d grab my camera, sit in the garden for a couple of hours taking snaps of flowers and insects, or I’d capture wildlife while out walking my dog. Simple, relaxing, enjoyable shots which were a joy to take.

As my photography has progressed, however, it has become more complex and my preferred genre is now composite fine art. I need a concept, a plan for execution, the actual images, and then the complicated process of piecing them together in post production to create my final image. A single picture can be months in the making.

It often doesn’t go to plan, either. I currently have a vivid concept in my mind for a series called The Shoot, whereby I turn the tables on blood sports such as pheasant shooting, giving the gun to the birds who are hunting us as humans. I know the concept is good because it speaks to my heart, and I can see the 3 pictures I want to create in my mind’s eye. Actually executing them, however, is proving difficult.

I’m only on the first image, have been working on it since February and haven’t even photographed or added my main subject yet! I’m not sure why it’s taking me so long, only that it’s not flowing and I’m struggling to get it to look how it does in my head. So, I work on it for a bit then when I start to get frustrated or despondent I walk away, coming back in a few weeks (or sometimes months, or even years!) to look at it afresh. I know it has huge potential, it’s just a case of working with it until I’m happy.

I’ve produced images in the past which I’ve never been totally at ease with, so have recently revisited them and started from scratch. This sometimes means reshooting the whole picture, as in the case with my Nun image which I’d taken using a high ISO and which was slightly soft and grainy; other times going back to the start in Photoshop and re-making the composite now I have more skill and knowledge, as in the case with my underwater shot. I’m much happier with both photographs second time around.

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There are times I kind’ve mourn the good old days of simple photography. Images taken purely for the pleasure of capturing the shot. However, having delved recently into more message-containing pictures I know I can’t go back to producing solely pretty photos. Having questioned why I have a desire to create, as outlined in this post, that desire very much includes my own unique view of the world and issues which are important to me. And while producing images with meaning can be frustrating, time consuming, exasperating and often makes me question whether I’m a good photographer at all, for me it’s the only way forward. Very little of the things which truly matter to us come easily and it’s often the hard slog which ultimately makes them so meaningful and special.

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