Many of the photos I've taken over the years have been pretty simple compositions. In these images my goal has been to produce meaningful and timely art. For other nature photographers the goal may be quite different. While some seek to capture a moment in time, others may look to document a species or perhaps influence a public cause. I have to admit that my personal goals have not taken either of those directions. Instead, as I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, my goal has always been and remains today to create photographic fine art.
I believe fine art requires an adherance to some basic principles of design and compostition. That should not be interpreted as an artist must be placed into a box that leaves no room to move. Quite the contrary. But, without the presence of some basic constructs of design, I don't honestly feel that a piece can be enduring in the fine art genre. There are, of course , others who will argue the point, and I respect the other points of view. I am just sharing my own here.
Photography, in order to be considered fine art, cannot be of the snapshot mentality. It must be composed and thought through in a manner consistant with accepted principles of composition, design, color , and perhaps even presentation. A quick examination of some art history books will illustrate this point. Great paintings live on through history for a reason. They convey not only the subject, but they demonstrate the knowledge and the expertise of the artist. Fine art photography should do the same.
One very simple lesson I use to pound into my students is "Less is More." Capturing an image without frills, one that contains only the essentials necessary to complete the compostion, can be the most rewarding. So many photographs seem over-powered by the content. In the midst of all the stuff, the subject gets lost and the photo loses its' power. It doesn't have to be that way. We really can free ourselves from the traditional nature photo, and we can begin shooting meaningful and lasting works of art. Sometimes all it takes is to look for simple subjects and then clean away all the clutter. Not a bad idea for our lives as well.