Once is a mistake…

… and twice is a style

A while ago I realised that I had enough of the run of the mill on-line aviation photo databases, I uploaded my photos and suffered the joy when they were accepted and the anguish when they were rejected. I got very angry at their apparent pettiness and then I realised what these sites were doing to me, they were making me conform to a set of rules that I did not respect nor recognise. They were not what I wanted out of photography and nor were they connected to what I considered as good photography.

Since then, I have made my peace with the likes of Airliners and JetPhotos.net they do their thing and I do mine. If your idea of success is having gazillions of photos on their web sites then good on you, you are absolutely great at conforming, which is something that I have never been good at.

Fairly recently, I was able to sum up my style thus, AVIATION LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY. Three words, a sentence or a way of life, it does not matter it all amounts tot he same. I realised that the subject is just as important as where it is located. What is the point in taking a photo of an aircraft if you don’t get a flavour of where the aircraft is?

So this means, not cropping to closely, why should anyone ever wish to crop a photo with less than ten pixels between the aircraft and the frame is beyond me, crop a little bit wider and show some of the background.

Place the subject lower in the frame. What’s the point in showing an equal amount of green grass (tarmac or concrete) at the bottom and sky at the top?

What is the point of placing the subject, with surgical precision, so centrally in the frame anyway?

Why cut the top of the tail off so the fuselage is central in the frame and yet to do this you have to include a large patch of boring  foreground?

Grass, tarmac and concrete they are all boring, once you have seen one blade of grass, apron etc you have basically seen them all. There are exceptions, sometimes it’s clever to use runway markings as lead-in lines but basically all ground is boring. The sky changes, clouds make a picture, it is clouds that determine the light quality, it is the clouds that give the impression as to what kind of day it was when the picture was taken, so they are fundamentally important in my photos.

Clutter, who like looking at an untidy bedroom?

No one except for the incumbent perhaps, it’s the minimalist attitude that prevails, isolate the subject and concentrate the eye on it, remove anything from the picture that clutters the scene, wind-socks, runway marker boards, cones, taxy-way markers, birds, people, anything in fact to simplify the picture, remembering the golden rule of cloning “If you can see the cloning others will do as well.”  or the crime is not in doing it but in getting caught!

The tragedy of it is that there have been countless numbers and there will be countless numbers of photographers who will suffer death by a thousand rejections at the hands of these on-line aviation photo database screeners, who knows how many of them will come away from the experience with the feeling that they are totally unworthy as a photographer. No one like to be put down time and time again. Some will learn from the experience and become very good at conforming and a few of that number will go on to become the guardians of this conformity by becoming photo screeners themselves and thereby propagating the impression that they are right and their rules are the only set of rules to play by. Others will come away from the experience with bitterness and the feeling that they are totally unworthy as a photographer and that really is a crime against humanity.

Right or wrong, these are my values as a photographer and I’m happy with them.

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  1. #1 by Kevin on March 3, 2012 - 10:04 am

    To True Wallace you have summed up nearly everything that I have felt with these on line aviation photo sites

  2. #2 by austerpilot on July 29, 2012 - 7:04 am

    Nice approach Wallace and very interesting – you’re getting great results with it and I agree, it’s often the context that makes the picture. Great stuff!

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