Recording the obvious

Apologies to Edward Weston for appropriating one of his quotes: “I see no reason for recording the obvious.”– Edward Weston.

Yet again, a discussion on one of my favorite forums (the Canon photography forums) has sparked my interest.  If you’re interested in reading the initial thread, go here: it evolved into a discussion of photographer categories based on certain quotes of earlier masters like Cartier-Bresson and Weston.

What I gathered from the discussion is that there are two main types of photographers – those with a vision, and those with a camera.  Grossly over simplifying, of course. 

I’ve never been a huge fan of Weston’s work – some of it is beautiful, and some of it, I can’t help but think it veers into the pornography venue.  There’s a fine line between celebrating the beauty of the human body and only photographing lovely young nude women.  Not to mention I always thought that Weston was somewhat full of himself anyway.   

For example, the first quote at the top of the post:  “I see no reason for recording the obvious.”– Edward Weston.  Sometimes photography does quite well recording the obvious.  To me, that means things like nature shots, landscapes, and the huge field of investigative journalism.  Recording only the obvious is necessary at times.

To balance that, here’s another quote by Weston:  “to reveal the individual before his camera, to transfer the living quality of that individual to his finished print…Not to make road maps but to record the essential truth of the subject; not to show how this person looks, but to show what he is.” – Edward Weston 

That sounds like a vision, a way of seeing on one hand, but at the same time, couldn’t you argue that you’re essentially recording the obvious?  The image on this post, for example – I’m shooting it the way I wanted to, focusing on the play of light and shadow as well as the wonderful texture of the fruit.  At the same time, it’s a photograph of plums.  The obvious.   

For myself, it’s simple.  I want to show you what I see.  I’m not interested in coming up with some deep vision that validates my identity as an artist.  I’m sure that in Weston’s eyes, my work should have some indefinable stamp that yells it’s mine.  Perhaps one day I’ll get to that point.  For now, I’m perfectly happy recording the obvious.

2 thoughts on “Recording the obvious

  1. I totally agree. I think sometimes in photographing the obvious you highlight the less obvious traits of the subject, which I think makes it worthwhile. Really like the pic as well!

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