Capturing reality

With the number of friends I have among photographers, I often get the chance to discuss the more philosophical aspects of photography. Photo sites, both Danish and foreign, bulging with pictures that fall under the headings of street photography and documentaries, and it is difficult to find a site without at least one picture from a run-down city with poverty-stricken people. On the other hand there are far fewer conceptual model images and in my experience these are held in disdain, especially by street photographers and photographers of nature.

Model photographs probably comprise 99% of my pictures and my approach to reality may therefore rightly be classified as “fabricated reality.” I occasionally hear comments like “come out into reality and take your pictures” and come across folk with the conviction that my work is too easy and an imitation of reality. Not surprisingly, I suppose, my view is the exact opposite. It is too easy, photographically speaking, to go into town or travel to an impoverished part of the world and take pictures of slums, dirty children and toothless old people. In fact, I believe that it often borders on misery tourism and a lack of empathy, even if it is perhaps done with the best of intentions. I love travelling around the world too – healthy and stimulating for the traveller of course, possibly interesting from a documentary point of view, but seldom particularly exciting from a photographic point of view. On the other hand I find it extremely difficult to create staged images that can have the desired impact and express emotions and stories without appearing to be staged. That for me is challenging photography and one of the reasons that I’m passionate about my work in the studio.

But then, thank goodness, we are all different and I wonder if we don’t basically all want the same thing but in different ways: to explain to others how we see the world and try to affect them in the same way that we are affected by it.

My favourite website for inspiration and emotions is 1x.com. Here the best of the best images are selected in a rigorous review, and every day about twenty new images are published. Although toothless old people do tend to dominate, the selected photos cover a broad spectrum across all genres and styles and the quality is undoubtedly the best of any photo site on the internet.

Ix.com produce an annual publication. Yesterday I received their 2010 issue – “In Pursuit of the Sublime“. 205 photographs from photographers around the world, including myself, covering every imaginable field of photography. A superb and inspiring collection and without doubt the largest photographic publication this year. I am extremely proud to have received a mention among these prestigious photographers and photographs.

Browsing through the book provides hours of amazement from the most stunning pictures. From architecture and insect close-ups, to documentary images, portraits, conceptual studio pictures, colourful photographs of birds, sunsets and pictures which cannot be called anything other than dazzlingly skilled photographic art. If you’ve got $100 to spare, I recommend you buy this book. If not, take the opportunity to browse around the photo session at 1x.com . You will not regret it. This is real photography – the reality as seen through the cameras of thousands of photographers.

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