July 12th, 2021
As you can see from the images here, I have recently visited Reculver. You could say it is something I do. I visit Reculver. The place, although small and not containing much, does hold some zen-like qualities that make me go there a few times a year, even if only for a few hours, usually at sunset.
Since my first visit a few years able I photographed the abbey ruins from all angles that interested me, using various apertures, exposure times, filters and different lens. Although it was important to bring home ‘that image’ (which was of course not always possible), even more important was to just be there and absorb the calm of the place. This is a lot easier now that I have shot it so many times – the need to take every possible shot at one go is no longer there – no more running franticly with a tripod to get the best short. It is now more of an unhurried exploration of the place. A lot more enjoyable than previous self-imposed ‘assignments’.
During my recent workshop I explained the need of ‘dancing around the teacup’ – shooting the subject from all possible angles to arrive at the most ‘powerful’ approach. What is “powerful’ or ‘interesting’ in photography is a separate matter – what I mean here is achieving an image you are happy to put your name to and hang on your wall.
That ‘dance’ really is a very powerful thing for every photographer, especially if you are new to the place. Exploration is key to finding your frame-worthy ‘sweet spot’ but even more so to gaining some understanding of the place you are in.
What if you visited the spot many times, like I did with Reculver Towers? You already know how you want to shoot it. The excitement of novelty is long gone and replaced by tranquil delight of just being there, doing what you enjoy doing.
Being very much ‘what if’ kind of photographer, I tend do shoot against the rules a lot. Mostly it gives nothing at all, though every now and then it results in an image I consider worth keeping. This time I decided that my ‘dancing around the teacup’ will be very stationary and that it will result in a few different versions of the same take – to reflects different moods. You can see three of those versions here and decide if any is to your liking.
I often hear from photographers that they are unable to decide (having created a few) which version of their image they like better. Quite often they put it to their friends/followers on social media, asking them for ‘help’ deciding. It always baffled me why anyone would want to do it.
First of all, you are not shooting to please anybody. In art the opinion of others does not really matter, much as you may respect them. Even more importantly though is the fact that in art you do not need to decide. In art you are free and you can do your ‘dance’ any way you like. Not having to decide is a part of your freedom.
DEREK MICHALSKI – Fine Art Photography
Copyright – © Derek Michalski / All Rights Reserved 2000