I wonder how many of us who pursue photography as an interest or passion have considered turning professional – and by that I mean making it our career or main source of income. Tempted? I guess quite a lot of us may have toyed with that idea at some point.

And apart from the obvious concerns about money, what put you off? For me it would have to be the idea of taking images that are dictated by someone else: working to a brief, for a campaign, or an agency, taking pictures of something for which I have no interest. I couldn’t do it. Every image I capture is triggered by a ‘connection’ with what I see before me. That ‘connection’ has many guises: beauty, colour, texture, scenery, contrast, line, humour, the bizarre, to name a few. Whatever it is, I am ‘attracted’ to what I see. And previously on this bog I have commented that sometimes it is only later that the initial subconscious attraction, that made me want to press the shutter, becomes a conscious one that influences how I ultimately process and develop an image from that initial RAW file. To abandon all that and operate ‘in cold blood’ would require a complete mind shift.

What I connect with changes. Some days I am sure I see things that I wouldn’t on others.

And so in a round about way I come to the point of today’s images. I have found myself increasingly drawn to images that have ‘design’ as their primary feature. What do I mean by that? You may be thinking: that’s just another word for composition. Every image is composed by the photographer but in the images you see here the composing has been – shall we say – shared. Dictated initially by the design work of others that I have chosen to crop and isolate in a way that juxtaposes elements within the frame. Elements that might not seem at first glance to have any intrinsic appeal; but when presented and cropped in a particular way, aided by my pre-decisions on processing, I hope distils images that are stripped down to simple basics that to my eye have an elegance of simplicity : white, black, single colour, line, shape, and juxtaposition.

Maybe this will seem rather contrived to some of you. It can be difficult to explain an emotional attachment to a style of image. I don’t always understand the appeal of some of the modern photography that I see in exhibitions and catalogues, so I can hardly expect others to understand some of my own. One thing is for sure: photography is an ever expanding art form, and photographers will always strive, as they do in all art forms, to say something different through their pursuance of their Art.

I haven’t turned my back on my more traditional photography, but as a person with a restless mind I continually look for something new: new challenges and new ideas. Some may make sense, and some will fall flat.

As always your comments are welcome, particularly on today’s set of images. Does some of what I write ring true for you?

All these were taken in a single hour session at Bicester Village; a designer outlet shopping centre housing about 130 high-end clothing brands. My wife was shopping and I was let loose. I’m glad to report that the damage to the family wallet was minimal!


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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21 Responses to Designed

  1. rigmover says:

    I don’t think I have the patience to be professtional, nor would I ever think I was good enough.

  2. Well stated. I’m of a like mind — I couldn’t shoot images based only on the dictates of someone else. I find it too limiting to one’s creativity, and my longstanding motto is “I don’t do weddings or babies.”

    That said, one can shoot what they want and still be considered a ‘professional’ photographer. Some of my landscapes and ‘tractor shots’ hang in commercial venues; I have a steady client who has me shoot his swimming pool construction projects, but I get to do it my way; one client just likes what I do and snaps up prints on a regular basis. So, I think there’s a happy ground somewhere in the middle.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Rob for your interesting comments. Weddings and Portraits are, I suspect the easiest work to fit in around a career but probably the scariest, and they just don’t appeal to me either. I periodically contemplate selling the odd image through my websites but have never quite got round to it yet.

  3. Len says:

    Interesting post Andy. As far as making photography a career, I had a pretty successful management career and loved it. When I retired and started to build upon my photography skills and now love it. I have had numerous people suggest that I start a photography business but I will not do it for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I love to shoot and when you have a business, you spend more time running the business than shooting. The second reason is that while selling some photos would be nice, I don’t need it to keep my standard of living. Lastly, I have a driven personality and if I had a photography business, I would probably not enjoy it as much as I do now.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Len. Interesting comments. I agree with you – creativity and business are not two words that comfortably rub shoulders. I’m going to stick with creativity. Like you, I have a good pension from my career. Photography is fun and long may it remain so.

  4. seekraz says:

    From the images you were capturing here, it would seem that the family wallet would have a serious limp by now…glad to hear you saved it. 🙂

  5. Wonderful post Andy and very thought provoking. I’ve always been a creative individual and actually studied theatre in University and worked professionally as a stage manager for years before getting married. I’ve been working for a large financial institution here in Canada for many years now and enjoy what I do but my photography has become my creative outlet. I have sold some images and was thrilled with that but with one son heading to university next year and another following in 2 years I think I need to keep my day job 🙂 But I do agree with Rob Hanson. I love shooting for myself and not having someone dictate what I shoot. If I can get a few photography gigs part time I would love it and actually do some work for a photographer doing “on the spot” give away portraits at events.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks very much Edith. There’s a common thread running through the comments. We are creative people who don’t like being told what to do! Amen to that. My creative streak was subjugated by my career – totally sidelined for a time. In fact there was little time for anything beside the career at time – Medics work all hours and some. But creativity runs through our family. My paternal grandmother was a painter, my mother painted, and both my children are highly creative – my daughter has produced some superb drawing and painting over the years, and my son is a skilled graphic designer, typographer and art director. Now I’m retired it’s a real joy to explore that creative gene.

  6. I’m in pretty much the same situation as OGH and Len Saltiel, except that I’m not retired. But the basic point that leaving my current job to start a photo business makes no sense. That said, if I were 20-26 years old and starting today, I might give it a shot, although I’m aware of all the drawbacks everyone mentions.
    That aside, I really like this photo series. I don’t think it would have worked half as well without the essay that accompanies it, making this a fine example of actual photo blogging.

  7. Like everyone else, I’ve certainly thought about turning my passion into my career. And then I talk myself out of it for many of the reasons mentioned in the comments above. Ideally I’d like to create one incredible image, price it at $1, and sell it to 5 million people. Anyone want to be the first?

  8. I have been very happy and relatively successful in the field of computer science for many, many years. My artistic side always craves a venue to create, though, and when my father passed away I was compelled to join the field of photography. As many have stated in the comments here, I too am not in a situation at the moment to abandon my full-time science job to pursue the field of photography… but, we’re working very hard at it with a specific goal in mind for the longterm. One day… one day, I’ll leave all the computer science behind and be able to fully embrace my artistic inner-child, and run free. This is a very thought-provoking piece you’ve created today, Andy, and one I’ve enjoyed immensely!

    • LensScaper says:

      Toad, thanks very much for your contribution to this interesting series of comments. I sense that creativity exerts a strong pull on us all, an ‘if only…’, a longing to be able to free ourselves from what pays the bills, and do what brings us pleasure and fulfillment. I hope you will succeed one day in breaking out of science completely. To be honest, considering how much time and effort you must be committing to photography, I didn’t think you could still be a full-time worker in another field. Many thanks for your comments on the Post too.

  9. Interesting post Andy. I enjoy photography too much to turn it into work. Now it might be nice to make a little on the side to help pay for the equipment.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Phillip. I get the general feeling from those who have commented that work and pleasure are incompatible with each other. That just about sums it up I think. We all get too much of a buzz from photography to sully that enjoyment.

  10. I dont think I could be a professional photographer if I had to meet the needs of someone else. To do it, I had to make images I wanted to make and then find a market for them. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially as a landscape photographer, but where there is a will there is a way. I figured there are other people out there doing it so why not me? I guess being prepared to be a little poor helps!

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for commenting Anne. You have been very bold in the path you have set out on and I will continue to follow your progress. I’m confident you’ll find markets for your work.

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