Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Photography and reality

A very philosophical question that can't be answered to your satisfaction in a scientific proven way. If you look through the viewfinder of your camera the world looks different, because you (and the technology in between) apply your view to the ordinary world. Things look different after you look at them in a certain way and the subjects turn into you personally created fantasy.

a magnification mirror and a camera distorting reality

So the question is: what is reality? 

Your eyes are built in a certain way to perceive light, shadows and a palette of colors around you. The eye also has a certain focal length (53°) and acts like a very good high contrast camera without any noticeable grain at low light. When you use other optics to capture the world around you, you alter reality, because of the characteristics and specs of the tool you use. After that you are making decisions on how to use this reality changing tool.

Imagine a fast moving object. You can freeze that moment in time that is stored perfectly in your subconsciousness but not for instant replay with all the details like in a photograph or a movie. If you change the shutter speed the moving parts may become blurred and the whole meaning of the image changes instantly. You can use a wide angle lens give the viewer a greater field of view or you decide to use a telephoto lens to compress the visual contents. Every photo - even if you take it at 50mm in documentary style - is a lie. Because you changed reality with the decisions you make before you released the shutter. It is a new reality created out of a past event by adding you personal view.

freezing the moment - it doesn't looked that elegant in reality


Can you be a hundred percent honest person?

So bear in mind that nothing is real if you see it through the eyes of a philosopher. There is always a view applied. Think of the many influences you are under every day. You can't create something out of nothing. Think about a situation where you shoot a documentary series about a political event. Can you fully ignore your opinions when you take pictures of this event? Are you free from giving the images a certain underlying message? Can you really shoot the raw event? Remember all the photos of politicians in the media. If they done a good job you see images of smiling winning people, but if you are someone like Trump the newspaper will choose a photo where he does a kind of an awkward face. Don't forget, every photo is a lie. Can you be honest to the bone? Not a hundred percent, because you are a human being.

life is a game?



Philosophy and reality

You will never be free of all the things you have experienced in many ways in your life. But you can try to see things from a different perspective. This is where ancient and new philosophy comes into place. Philosophy can help you seeing things different by flipping the coin around or look just at the process of "the flip". Philosophy opens the door to many more realities and helps you questioning the bits of information that rain on you every day. Than won't stop you from creating new lies every day, but it helps you in developing different views on your and other peoples work. Socrates once said: "I know that I know nothing" and he was right. What do we really know? Are we smarter when we grow older? Do all the experience in photography make you a better photographer? Don't forget that you are still an old child that wants to play. To play means to flip the coin and watch it rotating on it's own axis.

I think there is no "homo economicus" (the economic) like many researchers say, we are more related to the type of "homo ludens" (the gambler). Look at the whole world with the stock exchange, sports and power and tell me why the main motivation to do a certain thing is ecomonics? For me it is a game. Don't forget that even when you are doing some serious photography.

Cheers,

Nils

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