Lesson 2: Finding Inspiration – documenting what I see

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    erja kaikkonen

    Photography for me until now has been equal to keeping a diary. I have taken photos for years, documenting my life, or what I have seen and experienced. I take photos mainly when I am content with my life, I do not take photos when I am going through a period of unhappiness. I love my photos, I love the fact that a big part of my life and my experiences are somehow documented.

    Yet, I have never been trained at photography and, to be honest, my photos have not been the greatest pieces of art. It is only recently that I have started paying more attention to composition and to light, and I enjoy beautifying more photos more and more as I learn and discover. Having focused on my non-artistic yet highly time-consuming career thus far, I have neglected my creative side for years. Photography has started to fill a creativity void in me.

    I travel quite a lot in my job, and I travel for fun too. At the moment I work in Afghanistan, but in the past two weeks I have visited Belgium, Canada and am now in New York. The month before I was in India and Sri Lanka, the month before that in Finland (my home country) and Belgium. Thus, opportunities for photos are numerous. Moments I would like to capture are daily.

    I have a particular interest in photojournalism. I am inspired by photos, which capture moments and emotions, in a particular place, in connection with the surroundings. I’d love to learn to take photos, which capture the moment in which I find myself either as an observer, or as a participant. I admire the greatest travel photographers who can capture the countries and cultures with such detail. I admire big classic photographers such as Robert Doisneau with a special focus on moments – the black and white really works for him. This said, I am not a fan of staged photos. It is not real, and for me, almost defeats the purpose of a photo, takes the subject or the scene away from reality. And reality is what I would like to capture, at its best.

    In sum, I am passionate about moments, landscapes, details, lifestyles, which are representative of our cultures, people, countries, and situations. I would like my photos to tell a story.

    Many great photographers have succeeded in this, each in their own way. I would not like to limit myself to one particular style, or to one particular artist. I would like to pull on the experience of many, be it black and white or colour, a portrait or a photo of a landscape.

    Duncan Rawlinson

    Thank you for submitting your essay. Hopefully I wasn’t too long in getting back to you. I trust you understand because I was out shooting photos! 🙂

    The assignment:

    What you need to do for this assignment is write a 500 word paper (approximately 1 page) on a photographer or artist that has had an impact on yourself as an artist. In this article you need to identify 2 important things.

    1. A particular piece of work they created which was of particular importance to you.

    2. What theme within their work is of greatest importance to you (i.e. war, love, family, color etc)

    We will review this assignment based on originality and perspective. There are no right or wrong answers. The aim of this assignment is to get you thinking about your own area of interest within the realm of photography.

    It’s quite a treat for me to learn what makes others passionate about photography. I hope you learned a little about what you think about photography and why you like it as well.

    It sounds to me like you find yourself in many situations where photographing special moments is quite common. Lucky you! For most people they’re life situation (aka job, family etc) prevents them from being in exotic locations on a regular basis.

    Given that I’m happy you’ve decided to take your photography more seriously. It’s one thing to observe a moment in time and admire the beauty, or be shocked by horrific situations. It’s another to transfer those moments into a photograph. I’ve been shooting digital for over 10 years now. I’ve been in many interesting situations and I can tell you that many times you have to know your gear and what you want to achieve in an instant otherwise the moment will pass. This doesn’t mean putting it on auto and blasting away.

    I’m not saying I can do this but I’m certainly getting better at it.

    One way to get closer to capturing these moments is to simply shoot more. Shoot every single day. Bring your camera everywhere. Even seemingly mundane locales or situations. This is actually harder to do than it sounds. Especially if you’re shooting with a proper camera.

    Your piece resonates with me because I too once used my camera as a form of visual diary. In fact I still do. It’s just that now the images tell a much sharper and emotive story now. I would hope this would be your goal. If you just want to document what you see and you don’t go beyond that, you’ll just have factual photographs that don’t resonate with people. Move people, inspire people, shock them, just make them feel something. Even if it’s just a ‘wow’ moment!

    Thanks for your submission.

    If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me: office@photographyicon.com


    Gave me goosebumps!! 😀

    Duncan Rawlinson


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