Monday, July 11, 2011

Finding Your Own Voice in Your Photographic Practice

NOTE: The following article is a reflective answer to a question I've been asking about my photographic practice. I wrote it as an introduction to Suka Suka, an eclectic photo blog of mine which I recently lauched (see the side bar link). The question is:

What kind of photographs will you be making if you had no audience in mind?


There aren't many things that I can say as convincingly as this: "Photography is my passion."

I have been taking pictures since I had my first camera, when I was twelve years old. The fascination with the visual world and the passion to explore it felt so strongly then. It still does today. I'm still taking pictures as 'ferociously' as - if not more than - I was back then.

After all these years, my understanding of the visual world has of course evolved. The curiosity-driven and carefree approach of the beginning years of my love affair with photography have since then been interspersed with serious efforts in understanding it. I began to let the technical nooks and crannies of photography take hold of me. They even at one time had taken the best part of my relationship with photography. My knowledge and skills improved significantly. But I was also beginning to get estranged from the carefree exploratory spirit I once had. My approach to photography became stifled with technical concerns.

I became restless and questioning. I could make technically fine photographs, but I was not happy. They looked good but didn't feel as good. I gave birth to them, with my eyes and hands, but they looked like orphans. I missed the technically imperfect pictures that I made with joy and felt right.

Then I began to explore some more. Taking pictures that I like, some. Taking assignments from others, some. Doing ideal projects so that I could find meanings in my photographic practice, some.

Over the course of doing these things, I began to realize that it was in making the instinctual pictures - pictures that I mentally, emotionally, and spiritually had connection with - that I found joy with. And it was pictures that I made in this way that felt right. They spoke 'me'. There's me in them.

I was ecstatic in this realization. I had eventually rediscovered 'the voice', my photographic voice, that I had forgotten and silenced in the name of technical perfection!

The right pictures that I make are varied in subject matters, diverse in their technical considerations, and may or may not be of interest to others. In these concerns, they are eclectic. But they do have one thing in common: they were made instinctually, often at the spur of the moment in response to a visual stimuli. It is this kind of pictures that I share with you here.

SUKA SUKA is an Indonesian word that means more or less 'the way one likes it'. It is the name I have chosen for this photo blog of mine.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


What can be happening when photographers meet?


I honestly think that's what's going to happen when photographers meet.

Some of you may of course know what X-pro is. It's the short form of cross processing, i.e. the procedure by which - back in the age of film photography - a piece of film is deliberately processed in a chemical solution which is not intended to be used for that particular type of film. The result is, well, interesting! There are these suprisingly 'unrealistic colors', high contrast, and so on and so forth as you can see in this series of photographs I took at a photographers' gathering I attended yesterday.

X-pro can now of course be simulated in digital processing (what's not these days?). Nearly all digital photography processing softwares I know of have this facility/capability. In Photoshop, you can manipulate the contrast and brightness, hue and saturation, and the curve editor to get this effect. In other programs like the PhotoScape, this facility is available in the form of a filter that can be applied with a click of a button.

Technical questions aside, what X-processing do you see in the subject of these photographs?

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