A quest for the ultimate, beautiful, meaningful picture

Photographers, be free!

When we heard Frank Boots, spokesman of the jury and president of the national association BNAFV, explain his judgements on the photos in the regional contest, two remarks stood out for me.

The first was that amateur photographers are not accountable to anyone. We should feel free to make any photo we like. He did not go into that any further, but he must have meant something like our not being bound to be faithful to nature or facts, since we are not journalists or documentary photographers. Nor are we bound by the canons of art—Mr. Boots made this remark as something coming out of a public discussion he had had with a museum director. That part of his implication was not so clear to me: I thought that if any group were good at breaking canons and being free, it was artists.

His second remark was that there were typical camera club pictures: details of buildings, dilapidated window sills, and similar still-life pictures. Or portrait and model pictures that were neat, pretty-pretty. Mr. Boots wanted more than that, wanted something ‘crazy’, something personal, something (in the words of last year’s jury in the same regional contest) ‘authenticity’.

The photo that goes along with this blog, then must be an homage to camera club traditions, but after his remarks I did put it through Lightroom once more to make it something a little more personal. I’ll spare you the details, but in the words of Dolly Parton, ‘it takes a whole lotta money to look this cheap’—it took me a whole lot of fiddling around to make it look this cheap. By the way, the photo was made last week in Vietnam, just a wall on a street in Bat Trang, a village near Hanoi.

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