Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Definitions of Photography of Place

I continue to work through the material in the Introduction section of Kat's Sense of Place class. As I mentioned in a previous post, which you can read here, this course is jam packed with amazing inspiration. Since I am no longer on class time, there is no immediate rush to finish. I can dwell on a section as long as I need to.

Defining Photography of Place. These are Kat's definitions and I agree with them. As I read each one I pondered them and thought about how my place, The Leelanau Peninsula related to the definitions.

Even though these definitions are about photography of place, for me it is also about writing of place.

The first type of photography is Travel Photography. Kat writes:

"Most travel photographers take pains to make a place
look inviting, showing the different aspects of a place
to their best effect. Travel photography, 
in my mind equals advertising."

I knew right away that this wasn't the type of photography and writing I was doing. While I will gladly share a favorite historic building, hiking trail, restaurant, shop or winery. I don't really care whether people come or not, I would prefer to keep the Peninsula to myself, quiet and uncluttered of people, their cars and their stuff. 

The photographs I take are not always going to showcase all the beautiful natural and man made wonders here. The things and places that I photograph are what speaks to my heart. 

The second definition of Photography of Place hits closer to truth for me. Documentary Photography:

"Documentary photography strives to show a place
as it is, warts and all. It's about documenting the 
place to tell a story. It may involve many
different aspects of capturing a place, or it may
focus on a single topic. The underlying story the
photographer is telling influences the images
which are captured and shared."

When I first read this I thought "Oh this is it, this is what I am doing", but a couple key components were missing. Where was I in the story? The story is about how I connect with the places within the story. Secondly Kat says "the story the photographer is telling influences the images which are captured and shared." I work the opposite way. The images I capture are the ones that give me that fluttery feeling inside. The photographs influence the story.

Finally I read the third definition, the one that is the basis for the class, this one held the most truth for me.

"When I talk about Photography of Place, I am
talking about photography which is the 
reflection of me and my experience of the places
I visit. There is no intent other than to capture my
experience of the place, and then invite the viewer
to come along. I see and photograph what interests
me, and I share the results. There is no intent to
sell a place or convince you of a certain point
of view. Through my images, the viewer gets
a sense of both the places I visit and who I am."

This sums up perfectly how I feel. Although Kat talks about visiting many places and her connection with them. My story is about one place and the deep connection I have to it. I would love to take you along to the places I discover, tell you about the things I learn and the people I meet.


Nicki said...

Your photography strikes me as visual punctuation to add emphasis to your story. Detailed shots bringing the reader to a pause to appreciate the tone of your experience -- with a hint of salesmanship and documentation of the location.

Jeanne said...

Really enjoyed reading this and this class sounds very interesting and thought provoking. Love your shots and I have to agree that the last definition is the one that most fits my photography goals.

Cathy H. said...

I need to review this class, so much good information! I like Nicki's thoughts, they fit you well. I think you love writing first and the images are the cherry on top!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you...that last definition fits my photography of "place," too - in fact, my photography in general. I love the way you describe it: "The images I capture are the ones that give me that fluttery feeling inside." Yes, that's it exactly! And I love that photo of the little white shed. Looking at that one gives me that "fluttery feeling" and makes me wish I could be there myself.

Deanna said...

Yep, I agree with Nicki and I love the way she said it, "visual punctuation"! You have a gift for story-telling and your photography enhances each of those stories beautifully!!

Lisa Gordon said...

The third definition definitely fits me too!

Viv@Thoughts from the Desktop said...

A very thought provoking article, I am with you I have to have a connection with a place as you said a feeling of connection.

Ahayes1225 said...

Very nice, and there is your quote. I always thought your writing was wonderful but it really is getting deeper. I hope you are enjoying your writing class? Great work!

Suburban Girl said...


Roxi H said...

Great summation. I'm with you in that third boat. Rev that engine! Oh, that's right, it has paddles.

Donna Hopkins said...

Hi Sarah, I've missed my time reading your blog and am trying desperately to catch up. Wow, this course on a Sense of Place sounds amazing. I'll check it out further, but for now your descriptions were helpful. I would say that, like you, the third definition most closely matches my photography and my personality. I wish I could tell a story and document scenes, but my heart just isn't in it, and it shows in my pictures. Love your images today and your insights into your self. You are such an sincere person - and this is a quality I admire tremendously.