A Photographer’s Standards

2 months, 3 weeks ago 6
Posted in: blog

 

Respect the Viewer. Never harm the viewer. What we choose to share should bring, wonder, excitement, concern or compassion, never harm. This old photograph of my late son, Wesley and my daughter Catherine reveals a sister’s love, and the magnetic personality of Wes.  A slice of life captured in and instant of family love and harmony. These are the images that have a lasting place in my heart.
Respect the Subject. Never harm the subject.  Sometimes we have the chance to capture an image that will be compelling.  In this situtation I was walking down the sidewalk in St. Petersburg, Florida when I came upon this homeless man. I knew as soon as I saw his face that I wanted to photograph him!  This is a tricky situiton, I would never just shove my camera in his face or try to secretly shoot him form a distance with a long lens.  I approached him and starting talking with him.  I was wearing a photo vest and had a camera on a tripod slung over my shouder so I knew he would supect I wanted to photograph him.  I was “genuinely” interested in him, how he got there and what his state of mind was. After a few minutes of talking I asked him, “You have an amazingly expressive face, would you allow me to photograph you?” To my surprise he agreed and went on to let me direct him to a good location and then gave me a variety of great expressions.  After we were finihsed I asked him if he would join me for breakfast, and he did!  During breakfast we continued to talk.  He blessed me, I hope I blessed him to!
Practice your art for yourself, don’t depend on the acceptance of others. Photography “can” bring you great joy and satisfaction, “if” you make it about joy and not about acceptance.  If we live in need of others praise we are a prisoner in a cell that only the viewer holds the keys.  We can only be free to express what we see and capture it when we shed those shackles!
It’s your art, but be honest about it!  Today we can make amazing changes to our images after they are captured in the camera.  Post processing today offers amazing opportunities to rescue our  highlights and shadow detail, adjust color temperature and saturation. We can go even further with HDR, and AI adjustments.  If you are so disposed, even new skies can be dropped in a photo with a less than interesting sky.  My background is photojournalism and this is a harder hill for me to climb, but I am not judging whether it is right or wrong, it’s your call, you’re the artist, just always be honest with the viewer.  Below is the Nubble Lighthouse, a lighthouse I have dreamed of shooting and on a sunrise morning I caught a magical moment as the flag was backlit.  The following two images are a monochrome conversion in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 with AI sky replacement and a sky replacement and other AI work in Luminar AI.  You be the judge! After all you are the artist!
Have purpose for the images you make. As a pilot I have a long standing love of airplanes!  When at the Reno Air Races, one morning with a great sky we were able to  photograph the Blue Angels Performance FA-18 Hornets.
Have purpose for the images you make.  With the exception of my Savior Jesus Christ and my family and friends, my greatest treasure is my buddy, Chester Roscoe Fortney our 2 and 1/2 year old Golden Retriever.  Throughout 14 months of being home during Covid, he has become a great buddy, I owe it to him to captue him in his most common state, resting on the couch with me!!!
Photograph what or who you love. Every November since we lost Wesley the family gathers at a lakeside cabin in North Carolina, to celebrate his birthday and remind ourselves that though we have lost him from here, that we are still a family and love each other as he loved us. We will have each other until that glorious day we can join him and our Lord in Heaven!
Share from an open heart!  One day I walked into the Primitive Baptist Church in Cades Cove and heard the most beautful sound of a violin playing the most wonderful rendition of Amazing Grace.  This gentleman was alone in the chruch playing and I was stopped dead in my tracks….. I sat and thought just how amazing God’s Love is for us.  He was sharing his God given talent with the world or a very small apart of it!  I pray I’m doing the same!
Try to think about these ideas and I hope you will commit to making them yours too!
May I suggest four other key factors to making wonderful images!
1.  Don’t obsess over the gear, obsess over the light, conditions, and subject.
2.  Slow down.
3.  Simplify. Your gear, your composition, your concept, your technique.
4.  Spend 80% of your time finding your image – 20% making the image!
Be blessed,
the pilgrim

6 Responses

  1. Mike Early says:

    And for me there is a #5 – make the image that you want not what you think someone else would want — well, unless you are doing contract work and then you always work to make the client happy ….

  2. Bill Fortney says:

    Right, if they are writing the check, make them happy, otherwise make yourself happy!

  3. Jerry Reece says:

    Thank you for sharing your approach to thoughtful and respectful photography. Our aim should be to preserve the beauty of the people and the scenes that we are thankful to have viewed.

    Jerry R.

  4. Bill Fortney says:

    I’m thankful to know you, Jerry! Many great times out there in the field with you have taken up permanent residence in my memory!

  5. My friend…as only you can say it. Something I needed to hear today on America’s Birthday. I photograph what I love…even if few seem to appreciate it. Thanks for leaving a link for me on your site. It is the highlight of my photography career! God Bless! EHW

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