Photographs and the memories they rekindle are often etched in our minds for extended periods of time and linked to our emotions. Depending on our interests our photographs and memories could be travel related. We may have a strong attraction to specific subject matter like birds, nature or macro. Many photographers who enjoy creating images of people do so in order that their memories of friends and family can be preserved. Each of us has created images that have special meaning and memories for us.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
For whatever reason I’m one of those photographers who has never really enjoyed creating images of people. Client assignments can often dictate people subject matter, and I always do my best creating these photographs. At the end of the day, I would much rather photograph spiders, snakes and other creepy crawlies. Or landscapes, flowers, architecture… virtually anything else other than people.
When photographing in populated areas or locations frequented by tourists, I try to wait until other people have left my frame, or are obscured behind pillars or trees, before I capture my images. From a practical standpoint having people I don’t know in my photographs can make them basically unusable for me. From a commercial standpoint there are legal considerations in terms of obtaining formal model releases depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the photograph.
I appreciate that incorporating people into photographs can add a sense of scale to them. This is especially true with grand vistas often found in landscape photography.
In the vast majority of cases I find incorporating people in my photographs are visual distractions that detract from my experience of an image. Unless posed, people moving about can negatively impact balance and composition. Many folks feel differently of course. It all comes down to personal taste and preference.
Things that have been created by people do interest me. For example during one of our trips to New Zealand we were in the Catlins on the South Island. My wife discovered some artwork created by area school children on the interior of a rural public washroom. I couldn’t help going to investigate, then capturing some images of their creativity.
Many of my photographs and memories are associated with specific thought processes that I had when trying to create a photograph I could see in my mind. Like this motion-blurred, handheld image of a merry-go-round on Vancouver Island.
I can remember driving back to our hotel in Kaka Point after visiting the Nugget Point Lighthouse and coming across this early evening seascape. It is one of my favourite photographs from our various trips to New Zealand. Some melancholy is attached to this photograph. During a subsequent visit to New Zealand I discovered that these beachside trees were no longer there. Likely victims of a storm surge or perhaps another natural occurrence.
Some of my photographs and memories are associated with experimenting with my camera gear. Like shooting at f/1.2 with my 1 Nikon 32 mm prime. Sometimes when I may be in a bit of a rut, I look at old photographs like the one above. Memories of how I created an image can come flowing back. They often help me relive a creative process and help me re-energize.
Experimentation also encompasses work in post processing. I love transforming photographs in photo art. The memory of actually creating a photograph is often replaced by one associated with working with software in post… and transforming an image into a different interpretation.
Self-examination can sometimes be linked with my photographs and memories. I occasionally wonder why I enjoy capturing an emotion in an animal’s expression… but usually find little interest in doing the same with human subjects. Of course the practicalities of model releases do enter into photographing people. This is a complication that I avoid. For example, when photographing employees for clients, it is always the client’s responsibility to obtain model releases for every staff member shown in a project.
Our photographs and memories can remind us that every image we create is based on being in a specific location at a specific time with our camera gear in hand. Every time we press our shutter release we are capturing a moment that will never happen again. That moment is now past.
Perhaps that is one of the main factors that keeps many of us creating new photographs. Celebrating the moments of life that we have already lived through our photography gives us energy and encouragement to meet whatever the future may hold.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. This is the 1,064th article published on this website since its original inception.
How you can help keep this site advertising free
My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work, you can purchase an eBook, or make a modest $10 donation through PayPal. Both are most appreciated. You can use the Donate button below. Larger donations can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org through PayPal.
Word of mouth is the best form of endorsement. If you like our website please let your friends and associates know about our work. Linking to this site or to specific articles is allowed with proper acknowledgement. Reproducing articles, or any of the images contained in them, on another website or in any social media posting is a Copyright infringement.
Article is Copyright 2021 Thomas Stirr. Photographs are Copyright 2014-2017 Thomas Stirr and Rosemary Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!