The Brett Effect

I am still trying to figure out the kind of photographer I want to be. I’m not talking about my photos, that I’ve worked out. I’m talking about my identity as an artist. Do I want to be the sage, the photographer who speaks of all things related to creativity and living that life? Think … Continue reading “The Brett Effect”

I am still trying to figure out the kind of photographer I want to be. I’m not talking about my photos, that I’ve worked out. I’m talking about my identity as an artist. Do I want to be the sage, the photographer who speaks of all things related to creativity and living that life? Think of Guy Tal. Or, do I want to speak solely through my photos and embrace the nonverbal? Photography is a visual medium after all. Have you ever noticed that? For those who have been following me the last few years it would seem I’ve chosen the former. I suppose I have, but I’m not certain it’s truly me. I admire the photographers who have taken that role, but is it who I am?

I recently read the book Interviews With Master Photographers, which was published in the mid-1970s. It was fascinating to learn of the differences in philosophies between several extremely talented and accomplished artists. In particular I was struck by Brett Weston’s complete and utter refusal to discuss symbolism and philosophy when it came to his work, repeatedly stating that “I’m just a photographer, I’m not too verbal.” In this way he was the polar opposite of Minor White (also interviewed) and his Zen approach to photography and belief in Equivalence. And yet, Weston’s photographs clearly speak to his own unique vision. Why talk about that which can be so clearly seen? Here were two incredibly talented and unique artists who in certain ways couldn’t be more different. The lesson here obviously is that there is no right or wrong, only what is right for the individual. Which is precisely the point of this piece. Which is right for me? Which is right for you?

The good thing is I know who I am not. I know I have little interest in talking about the technical side of photography. That’s what Youtube is for. The are a million different ways to do this and that, and just as many photographers willing to tell you how. I am grateful for them for I too have benefitted from their knowledge. But, I have nothing new to offer that conversation.

Lately I have found myself growing weary of inspiring quotes and other reflective prose that accompanies many photos on social media. I have been one of the prime offenders. Are we intellectualizing too much, making all this out to be something more than it is? Taking it all so seriously? I still believe that the right text and image combination can elevate the whole to something greater than either of its parts. When it comes to all things creative I believe less is often more. Perhaps it’s simply the cycle of things or mood these days, but I find myself attracted to Brett Weston’s way of thinking. Stop saying so much and let the photograph do the talking. 

_DSC1087

2 thoughts on “The Brett Effect”

  1. That is who I am. I don’t have a whole lot to say about my images and honestly don’t put a lot of thought into making them. I look for things of interest in Nature and try to capture them in a way that will speak visually to someone looking at the image. They have to speak for themselves as if they required my words they would be mute. Most accomplished photographers feel that the print is the ultimate end of the photographic experience and when studied on a wall words are unnecessary and the viewer is having a unique experience and a visual conversation with the photographer. That’s good enough for me. When I post my images I enjoy the words of the blog or Facebook page visitors more than what I may have to say. That said, I do enjoy Guy’s writings and have a few favorites on YouTube that are good sources of expanding our vision. Thanks for this post which is well written and expressed, Chris.

    Like

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Steve, I appreciate it. I never like to directly talk about my images either, opting instead to “talk around” them. The viewer can see for themselves what it is, holding their hand is not necessary. Besides, a little mystery is a good thing. I love Guy’s writings as well and he had had an enormous influence on my photography. But, we each have to find our own voice. Otherwise we can come off as pretentious or worse, fake.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s