My Philosophy of Photography

You may have thought I was kidding.  Who would have guessed that I had a philosophy of photography?  In fact, what is a person like me, completely lacking in artistic sensibility, even doing with a philosophy of photography?

The first time I was in Germany, my pictures were terrible.  Really awful.  I had four disposable cameras, and I may have taken 10 decent photographs.  The problem, you see, was that I lacked any sort of philosophy of photography, and thus did not recognise the shots that would have been worth capturing.  Before I left for Germany this time round, I developed this loose set of criteria for what might make a slightly interesting photograph:

1. Juxtaposition.  This can be juxtaposition of oneself and a landmark, or juxtaposition of two interesting items.  For instance, picture of a church steeple: not terribly interesting.  You can find better pictures taken with better cameras by better photographers inside the internet at any time of the day or night, without even having to visit the location.  Picture of a church steeple with a S-Bahn train in motion, and a police van underneath: conceivably interesting, although this particular photograph didn't really turn out to be anything very great.  I use it as an example only because I was thinking while taking it "Ah, juxtaposition!"  The better example is here, with personal and thingal juxtaposition, although for some reason I look like I've been photoshopped in.  Also I didn't take this one.

2. Ephemerality.  Anything that won't be there in a week, or in a month, is a reasonable subject for a photograph.  This is why I end up taking so many pictures of flowers.  Once the flowers are gone, I will never again have a chance to take pictures of the flowers.  The first time I took this picture, five years ago, there was a scaffolding, and a giant advertisement for "Your personal bank."  The first one was a better picture.  This one is boring, I just took it to contrast with the other one, which is in a drawer at my house.  

3. An interesting angle.  If you do not have the limitation of film, you may as well try to take pictures of things from interesting angles.  It pretty much never works for me, but it can justify taking pictures of non-juxtaposed non-ephemeralities.

4. Things that are intrinsically interesting, but non-tourist.  I hate being a tourist.  This category includes any and all Engrish, and any photo that can illuminate some aspect of the local culture, such as an alcoholic laundromat.

Obviously, I don't follow my own guidelines with any sort of regularity.  It's just nice to know that the guidelines are there, I think.

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