dlritter's blog

Why I photograph the way I do.

posted by dlritter, Apr 7, 2007 3:09 AM — 13 comments

Some people understand my photographs, others don't. I rarely take what would be considered "pretty photos". Many times I am drawn to photograph something merely because the pattern or texture is interesting. Other times, I cannot describe my motivations, I just have to shoot the photos. Sometimes I try to challenge myself with a different technique or style. Some of these photos work, some don't.

Long ago I was moved by a Chinese quotation I read...

Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it. -- Confucius

This stuck with me and is always in the back of my mind.

Later, I discovered another Asian philosophy, a Japanese aesthetic called Wabi-sabi.

Here is a description of wabi-sabi is from this website.

Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.

There is more info here...

With very few exceptions, I prefer to not crop my photos. The composition of the photos you see in my gallery are almost exactly what I saw in my viewfinder. This is a bit of dislipine I try to impose on myself when shooting.

These thoughts along with a lot of practice and some luck help me get a few shots that I like out of the hundreds that I take.

I'm glad to know there are others that like them too.

Comments | RSS

1. posted by coloniera2, May 21, 2009 10:10 PM

I wanted to let you know how very honored I feel of sharing this space with you, David. Reading your manifesto was an eye-opening experience for me, to say the least. You see, I assumed that in this environment (photography), where we use to deal with the uppermost layers of things, with the external, the usual would be to find the impersonal and the shallow.
I feel particularly touched by your adherence to wabi-sabi and, implicitly, to mono no aware. Both, to me and in a very deep and felt way, are the fundamental reasons I find Japanese aesthetic so captivating. Alien yet moving.
The intellectual frankness shown here is so inspiring I felt immediately moved towards creating a manifesto of my own but after not too much thought I recognized there’s very little brow lifting potential in my take on tropical eclectic romanticism, so…
Anyway, thanks a lot for this. There’s never enough of this kind of expression in SXC or elsewhere.

2. posted by csp, Apr 11, 2007 6:03 AM

Hi David, just had a quick look through your gallery. I really like it. I think I also take photos with the same mind set - sometimes, not all the time.

I like the challenge of being in a very boring environment and trying to find the most interesting image. Kind of like what 'confuse-ya' says, seeing more that what you see, taking a real second look, and all that stuff. I'm not really a philosopher.

At the end of the day I just want an interesting photo to look at. If it's worth a second or third look, I'm happy.

3. posted by hcmlopes, Apr 12, 2007 1:59 AM

I really like this post, I helped me see things a little bit differently. Good info and thx for letting us into your head a bit

4. posted by ortonesque, Apr 12, 2007 7:18 AM

This is really interesting...for many reasons.
I like that I had no idea about wabi-sabi so I actually learned something from reading this blog. It makes me smile to think there is an entire movement around this concept. I never thought about the reasoning before. It would be an instinctive thing - you see a decaying poster on the wall and the beauty of it blows you away so you know you have to take a photo of it. But now I am fascinated to keep on reading more about the wabi-sabi movement.
I find your comment on cropping interesting too. Lately I've had a similar feeling. When I upload something I haven't cropped I feel a sense of satisfaction and it is a great challenge to set.

Thanks for sharing this insight in your blog and thanks for the photos which always blow me away.

5. posted by richermcm, Apr 22, 2007 1:12 AM

Hello David... I have never heard of wabi-sabi. Your description of it is very interesting and worth investigating further. I came to a similar conclusion many years ago from the vision of a different eastern mystic, Krishnamurti. He told a story of beauty where he came across a dead dog in the street and was taken by the beauty he saw in the maggots and flies all very busy feasting on the riches of the carcass! I must say this extreme is a little difficult for me to accept but the idea is the same. (I think the stench may spoil the beauty a bit for me!) Some years ago I took some pix of peaches that had started to go moldy. The delicate hairs that grow on the fruit are absolutely exquisite! Not everyone shares my excitement for this type of beauty. I will upload to sxc and see if the selection crew appreciates their beauty too! Keep up the good work. Cheers

6. posted by deziner02, Jun 13, 2007 7:40 PM

AND I really enjoy your photos and how you "see" them.

7. posted by TouTouke, Oct 6, 2007 11:06 AM

Browsing through your gallery was a great idea! I enjoyed it and I know I will still enjoy ....and I like your different style!

8. posted by Slantsixx, Apr 15, 2008 1:10 PM

Fantastic philosophy! I really like that and will keep this in mind!

9. posted by catealist, Sep 20, 2008 3:46 PM

Hi David,Im looking for backgrounds and found i was looking again and again at yours.
Your close ups of the rust/metal/paint ones are wonderful.
Ive photographed a few burnt out cars myself but your colours and composition make them look like paintings to me.
I am hoping to paint and play with some of them...thankyou for sharing your art,time and interior...I have some work at catealist.deviantart.com
I will let you know If I use any of you images.



10. posted by Elaphe, Nov 29, 2008 8:08 AM

Hi David.
No all people can see, how perfect your photos are. Famous. Greate inspiration ... When I saw them, I want to take my camera and go out to take similar. Thank you for sharing the way you see the world.


11. posted by jazza, Mar 24, 2009 3:28 PM

an nice article about wabi-sabi in relation to design:
http://www.alistapart.com/articles/theeleganceofim- perfection


12. posted by jbrown67, Apr 4, 2009 10:42 PM

I think I understand your photography, it provides a great base for designers, first of all. Second, I also see beauty in things that nobody else does. You have an ability to capture amazing photos that many other people would walk by without a second glance.

13. posted by Chaella, Oct 13, 2010 8:59 PM

Hello. I 'get' your work and think it's beautiful. Specifically, I love the pieces that are of steel, paint, rust and similar; they look like abstracts to me. Thank-you for sharing your work with us!

At my blog, http://divine-designer.blogspot.com/, I like to feature the artistic work of others. I'd like to feature several of your images, there.

Again, thank-you.

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