Raging against perfection
You'll be glad to know (as you may have gathered from attentive reading of my previous blog post) that I recently reconciled with PHOTO (French language) magazine. I had become cross and annoyed with it some years ago because I felt it had become in effect just another soft porn mag.
Though this may be belied by recent covers (featuring Kate Moss, and Zahia of kinky, French footballer fame), it looks as though they've now come back from this lazy approach.
On the other hand, I'm now resolutely, definitively put off from other titles I had recently started reading, such as Compétences photo, Chasseur d'images, and Le monde de la photo (though Réponses photo is quite good). They're just too damn geeky and techy. You almost need a degree in computer science to comprehend some of their pieces.
One of the articles that especially put me off was about lenses. The person who wrote it purpoted to tell you which lenses (about 5 different ones, it turned out) a serious photographer might need "in order to cover most situations". "What a complete moron" is the phrase that came to mind. Whatever happened to moving about to take your photo ? To using your imagination if you don't have a two-ton, 10-foot zoom along with you ? And didn't Cartier-Bresson take most of his photos using just a standard, 50mm lens ?! Almost makes you paranoid and wonder about the camera-equipment lobby !
Crucially, whatever happened to the notion of inventing one's own style and technique, and doing things your own way ?
Fact is, a lot of these mags and articles seem, willingly or not, to be vectors and promoters of conformity, and of the notion that rather than lunging out and taking imaginative photos, it's better safely to wrap yourself in tons of gear and the perfection afforded by the latest software.
There was also a piece about a 50mm lens just come out, optically quasi-perfect - but weighing a ton (well, just short of 1 kilo, but that's still a lot for a fixed, standard lens meant to be a choice companion of the street or travel photographer).
All this rather looks like the pursuit of technical perfection not only for its own sake, but also at the expense of substance and content.
Since this is a grumbling post, let me empty the bag and get it over with:
I feel the time spent on a single photo with the latest editing software is liable artificially to infuse each photo thus treated at great expense of time and effort with inflated or inexistant value or meaning. It's also liable to diminish or destroy the freedom coming from the notion that if a photo you took was no good, there's still countless fractions of seconds ahead of you in life to take better and amazing ones. Isn't it quite sterile to spend hours poring over what was but a fraction of a second lying in your past ?!