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What matters

Published May 16th, 2012

What matters? That’s the question I’ve been trying to answer for about a year now. To get you all bored to death, here’s my story. I’ve started with photography when I was about 16. Working at McDo to buy my first camera, the Olympus Camedia C-4000. I photographed all I could, everywhere, every time. Yet at some point I discovered that I have no idea what really matters in photography. I took the photos just because I could and I had nothing better to do. I had the feeling one needs to travel far away from home to take a beautiful picture of a sunset. That when shooting on the streets, one needs to hide or ask for permission. That photography has rules that cannot be broken. I was fed up, had no inspiration and gave up on photography.

Last year I decided “to give it a shot” once again, so to speak. I needed to create something, to realize myself. I bought a camera and started all over again. I can’t say I had a clear picture just what I will focus on, but this time I was aware of it.

I decided to give myself a little time. A year. A year in which I will not show a single shot to a friend (failed, but tried) nor will I publish anything. All just to find out what I want to shoot and what really matters for me personally in photography. I needed to get to know my photographs well before I start publishing them.

I fell in love with the streets. There it is, everything for you on the plate. You don’t like this scene? Go have a look around a corner. You don’t want to shoot this guy? There is another one right behind him. You have all the time in the world, you decide what is important. You decide which split of a second will be remembered. I doubt that there is any other genre of photography so flexible. You just can't simply move a sun around the landscape to get a perfect shot (only Chuck Norris can). But you can move around the streets. But there is of course more to it. There is the clue of reality. Reality cannot be photographed nor it can be objectively perceived by anyone, but in street photography you got a small clue. It is not even a primary objective of street photography and yet it is there. Like a puzzle that completes an image.

Now I know what I expect from my, or any, photography. It is the message it carries. Don't get me wrong here, I don't expect from any photography to make me instantly find the meaning of life or explore the deepest depths of my soul. It just needs to say why it was taken and what it has to show. What is important is, that it needs to be done in the simplest way possible. Any photograph needs to show as little information as possible to pass the message it carries. No unnecessary retouching, HDR, rendering effects, watermarks or even colour most of the time. Everything that draws your attention away is redundant. Regardless of the complexity of the message the photograph must be simple and basic. Once even a simplest message is shown in a complex way, you are creating art for an art. Nobody will ever understand it, but you. If the photograph tells a story (not necessarily a true one) you have won.

Do I live up to my own expectations? No. I fail most of the time I press the shutter button. But I know what I'm looking for. Every now and then there is a photograph (not necessarily mine) that is just like I think it should be. It's the moments like this that keep my passion alive and this time I don't feel like losing it any time soon.

Getting started

  • April 27th, 2012
  • NIKON D7000
  • 16mm / f/4.5 / 1/1000 sec

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Michal Jenčo  over 4 years ago

Úplne krásne napísané. Obdivujem tvoje fotky, hlavne tie s tieňmi ... je skvelé vidieť, že to niekto vidí ako ja/ako by som chcel ja. Som veľmi zvedavý na ďalšie, a je skvelé, že si Slovák a fotíš tak blízko. Ja som v Brne, ale z pár prechádzok po Ba a z týchto fotiek mám silnú chuť byť tam/spraviť rovnako dobré tuto :) Čokoľvek si si dal za cieľ, veľmi dobre plníš.

De 'Andre Scott  about 5 years ago

well said

Peter Pressborough  about 5 years ago

Si to vystihol... Bratislava je nas spolocny subjekt, takze ta budem rad dalej sledovat ;)

Gaston Diaz  over 5 years ago

Good job, Martin... I enjoy this!