Until recently, when asked what my primary photographic interests are, I usually replied that it is travel photography (see for example http://www.vovsi.com/about). But now I am not even sure what “travel photograpy” is and if such a “genre” of photograpy actually exists. To explain what I mean, let me give a few examples. A few years ago I traveled to Norway and, as any of the many “photographer-enthusiasts” made tons of pictures (most of them were dreadful but it is not the point). Here are a few:
Together with the other images from that series they describe my trip to Norway and therefore for me personally they are travel photography. But if an independent observer were asked which genre of photography each of these images belongs to, the answers most probably would be: (a) portrait; (b) nature; (c) landscape. I doubt that travel photography would ever come to his/her mind.
Moreover, let’s imagine that precisely the same images were made by a Norvegian photographer right near his/her home (most probably they would be better than mine but it is not the point). The guy/gal would never think that they have anything to do with travel. And the word “travel” would quietly disappear from the conversation … .
So here is the point. Actually two points, both rather paradoxical.
1. The concept of travel photography is relative. It depends on who is the author of the images in question. Strange, isn’t it?
2. It does not make a lot of sense to speak about travel photography while considering a single image (even made by a “real” traveler, not by an aborigen). A single image is a portrait, a landscape, a street scene, a nude, a bird, etc. For me the words “travel photography” are appropriate only when we have a series of images giving a coherent description of a certain travel.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are welcome.
Yesterday I was attending a presentation at a local photography club. The speaker was a well known and well spoken photographer, and his works (at least most of them) are quite good. But the guy could not stop! He showed us about 50 interesting images, then a few tens more images which the audience watched with less interest, then more, then still more, etc, etc. Eventually more and more people began to leave, but the speaker continued talking regardless, obviously enjoying himself. He forgot what every presenter must know and unconditionally follow: less is more. The span of attention of every audience is limited and trying to extend your performance beyond this span is practically senseless. For example, for a slideshow type presentation (a series of images with brief comments) the optimal number of images should be somewhere in the range 30-40. I know, I know, it is hard. When I speak about my own work, I can do it infinitely and it is practically impossible to shut me up. But here what I noticed: when I watch presentations by other people, then after 30-35 images I begin to feel that this is probably enough. And the faces of people around me usually express the same feeling … . So here the advice: limit your performance to 30 pictures. Ok, let it be 35. OK, let it be 40, but this is it! Not more!! Never ever!!! Because less is more.
People often ask why I am so attracted to photographing sculptures. Being unable to come up
with a rational explanation, I usually reply with a joke: “There are two reasons: they never move and never complain”.
Anyway, when about a year ago Princeton University opened an exhibition of a famous Chinese sculptor Ai Weiwei =”Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” (see http://www.princeton.edu/aiww/about), I could not resist temptation and took a number of shots there. The exhibition is at the Robertson Hall on Washington Road; it features 12 bronze monumental sculptures of animal heads, real or fantastic, each representing a sign of the Chinese zodiac (don’t quite understand why the word “circle” is used
there – the sculptures are placed in a stright line):
The shooting was not very successful and later I deleted most of the images without regrets. But one of them was worthwhile photoshoping, and I have been just pleased to learn that it got a Merit Award at the “Focus on Sculpture” annual photo exhibition at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ (see http://www.groundsforsculpture.org/Exhibitions/Educaton-Gallery-Exhibition-Focus-on-Sculpture):
This is my second attempt to create a blog. Initially I did it on Blogspot and the result was pretty miserable. More precisely, it was me who was miserable while fighting with numerous weird and counterintuitive features of Blogspot. The simplest things were taking hours and hours, and during each minute of this unequal fight I felt the iron claws of Google (who owns Blogspot) on my throat. Despite my desperate resistance, it forced me to become a member of Google+ and other Google-related entities and eventually I stopped understanding where my blog ends and Google universe starts.
Let’s hope that WordPress will be nicer.