Windows For the Soul - Photography

A photographer's dull life - Part I

If you want to build a portfolio that does not embarrass you, just how much of a handicap is it having a dull life? How much of the result is made by the object alone and how much does it depend on the photographer? I keep asking myself these questions whenever I come across portfolios of photographers, pros and amateurs, showcasing their photos of stunning landscapes and dramatic wildlife shots. How can someone who spends most of his day in front of his computer expect to ever have a proper portfolio? I suppose it really depends on the photographic path, so to speak, that one wants to choose. But the fact is that, at least for me (but I suspect the same happens with the majority of “photo viewers”...), the photographs that tend to capture greater attention are not photos that someone who spends most of his time in daily dull routines could take. I know that these are “no excuses” (hence the name of one of the categories of posts here) that may justify the lack of use of one’s gear, but I suppose it is beyond contention that it is harder to find a crowd-pleaser on a commuter’s route than on a photography trip to, say, the Patagonia or some snowy mountain destination. And with this argument I am by no means taking the merits from photos like the one I mention in my post “A photographer's dull life - Part II”, on the “Photography on the web” page of this site, but I believe it is not really unfair saying that the subject of the photo can be a winner almost by itself. Of course, an incompetent photographer can always manage to mess up the great work of mother nature. I mean...been there, done that.
Still, I would dare say that it is harder to find consensual interest in a photo of an ordinary detail or episode of life, than it is to gather general applause with photos of cuddly baby seals, of a colourful exotic bird or of a jaw-dropping landscape.
Having said that, assuming there is some truth in this, there is little appreciation that a photographer can expect to receive from a photo of a most ordinary detail that any other person would have the hardest time trying to see some interest in. Yet, how often do we take a picture that for some reason we like, but always end up having to explain why we like it and what we saw that caught our attention. It happens to me all the time and I can only see this as a sign that I should never give up my day job. This photo is an example of that. There I was, waiting for my train. In front of me was this clock on the wall. Stopped, broken and with the logo of our public railways company. I liked the symbolic nature of the shot of a broken clock of a broke company (kept by tax-payers’ money) and the geometry in the clock’s framing on the wall. Of course, I should not expect anyone to see it like me, but as long as I am happy with it, it’s ok. Obviously, tough, the path to a career as a photographer is not paved with photos like this one. Maybe I should bear this in mind in future posts.

Broken train station clock
Nikon D90, Nikon 55-200 mm f/4.0-5.6 @200mm, ISO 200, 1/80, f/8.0.