I need your help again!

I was blown away by the response from all you photographers out there who took your valuable time to give me feedback on the first edit of my landscape photography portfolio last week!  The feedback you gave me on the series of photos was so insightful and so helpful to me so I am very grateful!

This photography project has been deeply insightful for me.  I have realised so much about myself and my work that its hard to our into words.  During the 2 years I have been studying Landscape with the OCA my understanding has changed.  I have especially become more aware of how photographs are representations that we create based on our perception of a subject whether that is a landscape, a country, people or whatever we select to be the subject of our photographs.  During the course I read extensively on representations of Ireland specifically and the different forms that this representation takes.  If you are interested in reading on this subject yourself, a book I can highly recommend is Ireland and Photography by Justin Carville.  Gradually you become aware that a lot of the forms of representations seem to fit into a couple of categories.  That, I guess is very big picture.

What I realised about myself was that as a photographer we have a couple of choices when it comes to going out to make photographs:  We can head out on our photography adventure visualizing what we want to find out there in the landscape and go on a hunt to collect or bag the image tat we think will fit the preconceptions that we have.  Sometimes we find what we were looking for and sometimes we don’t.  The problem I have found with this is that quite often if we go out to find precisely what we think is there we can blind and blinker ourselves to what is there.  We go hunting for what we think should be there and not what really is there.  If it’s not there then we try to force what is there into the picture we want.  I find this particularly difficult here in Ireland as we live in a land that has been so stereotyped already, so packaged and marketed as a kind of dystopian cure for the modern condition, a landscape of quiet, green, picturesque beauty with a pub on every corner with a warm fire and friendly chatty locals drinking pints and playing traditional music.  This is not the Ireland I live in, its fantasy land.  The only truly picturesque landscape here is in the big country houses where the gardens are modelled on 18th century English landscape gardens.

The second choice we have to go out photographing with an open mind, with camera in hand, look at and evaluate everything afresh.  Turn off the inner monologue and experience the landscape visually, notice how the images affect you and how you react to what you see.  Photograph what is there not what you think should be there.  Do not self censor.  Photograph everything not thinking about what it means or if it is a suitable subject.  Free yourself of all restrictions and go with the process. See what you find.  Pan for gold, see what you find, save it, take it home and examine it.  If its gold then keep it.  Allow the story to emerge on its own.  Trust in the process, trust your eyes and your vision to guide you.  Don’t force it.  Allow it to happen instead of making it happen.

Now I need your help I would love to hear your thoughts on the slide show above.  Take 1 minute of your time to look at the video and afterwards leave me a comment here on what you feel the images say to you.  What do they bring up, what do you think the series is about?

About briancooney123

HOW I GOT HERE Of course, I wasn’t always a full time photographer. I spent a lot of time in the corporate world. I had a job which paid well, but just didn’t excite me. I remember the day when I had had enough. Enough of selling myself short, enough of dreaming too small, enough of doing what others expected of me. I had put away my dreams and told myself I would get back to them later, but somehow there always seemed to be something else that had to get done first. A friend of mine had recommended I take the NLP Business Practitioners course, and although I was really busy, I decided to do it. During that time, I began to imagine the different paths my life could take from here. While I had a hazy picture of what this other life might look like, I had a clear picture of where my current life was going if I didn’t change. It was a scary moment, a bit like standing on the edge of a cliff deciding whether to jump into the great unknown or stay on the cliff, safe but trapped. I jumped. The transition to the life I wanted was challenging The transition to the life I wanted was challenging but I would never go back. After that day I resolved to do what I love, to follow my bliss.  Picking up a camera after several years away, I found that many things had changed, the digital age had arrived. In the intervening years, I was too busy to pay any attention to my photography, and occasionally when I took something I really liked, I would think “how do some photographs seem so captivating and others leave me completely cold?” I knew this is what I was meant to do Somehow though, I knew this is what I was meant to do. I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about being a photographer. I took many, many courses and I read every book I could get my hands on, I still do. Since then, I have dedicated myself to helping other creative photographers achieve the results they want. And what a journey it has been. Last year I qualified as a coach. My main area of interest is creativity and helping others to express their vision. WHAT I BELIEVE Along the way, I’ve learnt that there are no rules. Experiment, explore, play. My advice is to make your art from your heart, not for the praise or the money.  Lighten up. It’s important to take your photography seriously, but it's a mistake to take yourself too seriously. Finally, you get what you want when you never, ever give up so enjoy every minute of it and just do it!
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6 Responses to I need your help again!

  1. Anne says:

    HI Brian
    Its looking really good to me, it has the right balance of different elements to convey to me ideas about the place and how it is in reality, while also hinting at the myth and showing its untruths. I think it works with your statement too.
    PS I was reading in Source p4 ‘future of the tourist board archive’, theres a bit of blurb about Failte Ireland, how it worked to create Ireland as a tourist destination…how the photography dept is now closed (financial reasons) and how the photographic archive is going to Dublin library spec. collections.

  2. Stefan Shillington says:

    Hi Brian I have responded to this already, but that’s ok, I understand you send these out in two different formats (at least I think that’s it!). I would like to add a comment, if you’ll accept the cheek of an amateur!: Composition is a strange beast. It comes in different “strengths” from loose structure, as used by such as Garry Winogrand, to the out and out self-conscious (where the composition dominates and suppresses everything else about the image). I think we have to be very careful to keep a fairly consistent degree of structural control, if a set of images is to feel comfortable together. I dare to suggest that one of yours in this latest set, that with the very strong diagonal structure on the beach, is much stronger than the others and feels out of place. There is noticeable variation with the rest which you might want to think about too. The other thing I wanted to say was how much I am with you in going out with the camera with no idea what I might photograph. I will usually make an attempt at taking one or two shots of more or less anything , to get the eye in. Then either it all suddenly comes to me, or it doesn’t! If it doesn’t then I have to remind myself that this is a regular thing, and it’s just not the right day or place: Yesterday I was out on Portland Bill where are quarries of beautiful Portland stone. Quickly I felt a book, (slim arty-farty volume!), and worked until I dried up. Today I was out on a rocky beach and thought to relax as yesterday was in the bag, but low, more pics of chiseled black Jurassic rock. I think we have a book of two halves – black rock and white Portland stone. So, with no forethought or particular optimism I think I have quite a nice book in the offing! If you get to the end of this, thank you, if not, you’re probably right! Best regards Stefan

    Sent from my iPad


    • Thanks Stefan! All constructive feedback is much appreciated! We all have to find our own level, our own set of criteria that we are comfortable with so if it works for you like that then thats great. In this set of images i am exploring meaning, myth and preconceptions – my own and other people’s.

  3. Seriously good images, Brian. I’m not suitably qualified to critique, but have experienced enough dross to appreciate you’re at a higher level.

    For what it’s worth, to me your images evoke a provocative mixture of place (those of us will recogise the Irish background landscape) with contemporary (the people, items, perspective).

    I believe you have achieved what you sought: images of Ireland that do not fall into cliche or stereotype.

  4. Hi Brian, I was doing a search of photo blogs in Ireland and came across yours. I checked out your video portfolio and I like it. The one thing I noticed is that in every photo you can see people or we have been there and left our mark on the environment. You might want to use these to help the environment in Ireland.

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