A brief statement or a few words of ideology

It is often said that ideology is more important than pictures themselves. It is said that images not accompanied by ideology, even the most beautiful, with perfect composition and execution, have a smaller value than those that are accompanied by ideaology. I am told that the content, the idea matters, not the form. That the ugly is the new beautiul, the beautiful is cheap. I am told that images shot on film must be dusty, lack contrast. It appears that film is more ‘noble’ than digital and that the very fact the picture was taken on film makes it more classy and valuable. At least this is what I have heard.

I have heard a lot of things about photography; things that I can’t or don’t want to accept. And as I can’t and don’t want to accept them, time has come for a bit of ideology of my own, for a little statement, a mission statement if you like – if Cocal Cola can have a mission, so can I.

1. I love beautiful images.  Harmonious images, well composed, subtle, aesthetically pleasing. To be honest, I couldn’t care less if people say that such pictures no longer are ‘good’. I love them, love their harmony and try, not always successfully, to take such pictures. I like them the way one loves flowers, beautiful decorations, sculptures or sunsets. I love them just as much if, in addition to being beautiful they cary a message, have a meaning, and idea. One could say I love them even more then and I can’t understand why an image that has a meaning, a message, a content must be ugly, poorly exposed, lacking in contrast or composition, harmony. It may well be brutal, horrifying, cruel, shocking like the burning protester from The Republic of South Africa or the vulture waiting for a child to die. But why do they have to be technically lacking? Sloppy? Fot me this is noncense and a whole regiment of critics of photography will not make me change my mind.
2. I love film photography. I feel it to be supperior to digital and definitely to be my tool of choice as such superior to the digital. Superior as a tool and only for me because I feel more comfortable with it. Because when I develop a negative or work on a print I feel emotions which I don’t feel sitting in front of a computer screen. If someone feels the emotions he needs taking pictures with a digital comera or a smartphone or a shoebox, then for him those techniques are better.

3. I love the esthetics of imperfection. I love images in which the author searches for imperfections, takes pictures on old film or makes prints on toilet paper, teachs and destroys the negatives, sprays unfinished prints with a fixer and looks for the magical effect. He then eliminates, eliminates, throws away and eliminates once more. He searches for this one brilliant image, inspired, for the magical imperfection almost like Jacon Pollock choosing the most inspiring fragment of his nearly accidental images. I feel excited at the sight of 30 years old negative, especially if they were not stored properly. Yet I am maddened if a see an image that has obviously been messed up passed off as art. An image doesn’t become art because it was shot on old negative covered with fungi. It doesn’t become art because it is simply out of focus, poorly exposed or scratched. Though I believe that such investigation combined with consciousness, sensitiveness and brutal selection may help create a real work of art. At teh same time without this understanding and consciousness and selection, such images are as worthless as a drawing made by a monkey that has just been given a pencil.

4.I have no clue why a picture taken on film has to be technically poor. I look at images on the web, see the descriptions, names of cameras, films and I hardly ever see images that actually use the potential of film or silver gelatin print. Though I hardly ever see the latter; I have an impression that everyone scans his negatives and publishes the resulting images with no postproduction whatsoever. I read that the film was push processed to increase the speed by two stops and for all the gold in this world I can’t see why if there was plenty of light and the photographer did everything in his power to eliminate the visual effects of push processing . And if that wasn’t enough, he destroid the film grain characteristic of this particular negative in post processing. So what did he use the HP5plus and not, for example, the Delta? And why on earth did he push process it? In the description I can read that the picture was taken with a Mamiya, one of the best cameras with perfectly sharp optics. Only that the image sharpness evaded him somehow and one can’t find any sense to the fact it is not there. I find an artist/pinholer equally hilarious if his images get perfect exposure, framed perfectly on the ground glass of a large format camera and sharpened in post production so that in the end all the magic of a pinhole is gone and we get an image that looks like there was a marginal error in its execution but without the description we couldn’t even suspect it was a pinhole shot. If the photographer aimed at perfect quality of a standard lens, why did he use a pinhole? Because he lacked money to buy a different equipment or because pinholes are fashionable?

And first of all I am vexed by people justifying the lack of skill, vision or time with an ideology penned down five minutes before publication. I can’t accept lack of consciousness, attempting to pass mediocre, accidental shots as art  only because they were accompanied by some misterious vision or because the author created some for of ideology while searching his drawer. I guess the only thing I dislike more are the angry exchanges on the internet and boosting one’s ego by constantly criticising and running down others; the more aggressively and personally, the better.And finally, a few words about what I value, like and want, try to do.

I value, admire technical perfection, especially perfection at the level that allows for conscious imperfection, ‘error’, for the creation of images that are imperfect WHEN their imperfection fits our idea ot the content we want to communicate. And only then.

I admire beauty and harmony.

I value vision and thought, an idea and conscious, consistent message, regardless of the technique used/

I value courage in searching, but I value critical approach to one’s own photogaphy as well as a brutal selection of the images produced.

I love emotions connected with different methods of work, techniques of registering images or creating prints. It is only thanks to the accompanying emotions that creation makes sense.

And first of all I love the joy that photography brings. The joy of a kid with a smartphone or of an old pro whose eyes start shining at the sight of a camera. As long as we know that some of the images resulting from this joy should end up in the drawer.