Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Daily Archives: April 4, 2014

What makes a good photograph?

Photoworks, I know their name does seem awfully similar to ours but we started in 1982 and are still going more than 30 years later, back to the point, they have a very interesting series of articles under the umbrella title, What makes a good photograph? I do have to encourage you to go and have a look and a read. You are interested in photography otherwise why are you here?

We’re All Editors by  in the series says…

Among my recurring mantras, I acknowledge the simple efficacy of Mark Twain’s brutal: “If you have nothing to say, say nothing.” There are far too many pictures in the world, and it’s the work of a moment to spot the ones that say nothing. Having something to say really is a good start; it’s a communication medium, after all.

I have always been irritated by photographers who are illiterate in their medium; and not in a know-it-all Professor of Photography kind of way, either. I don’t mean that everybody has to know what an ambrotype is or the date of birth of James Jarché. I mean something much less dry than that. In other art forms, creators gauge the level of knowledge of the audience and build upon it. Put another way, creators know that their audiences work hard to extract meaning and emotion from their stuff, and they pitch it where that effort can be rewarded. Thelonious Monk most assuredly knew the simple cadences of the Protestant hymns which underlay the classical chord-sequences of the piano blues that came before him. He didn’t want to play like that, but he knew that his audience knew it, and he could quote and refer and paraphrase and make fun of that stuff confident that his hearers would ‘get’ it. That is literacy…….I’ve always pleaded that photography is a perfectly ordinary cultural activity. What that means is that it has to respond to analysis. Photographs are good or bad for understandable reasons. That should be an article of unshakeable faith. But in every other culture that I know, citation and reference and parody are the absolute basis of communication, and unpicking them the basis of analysis. Somehow, in photography, we often allow that to slip. So many photographers think that they are inventing the wheel, and that their viewers can be ‘wowed’ by their lonely vision, isolated from all that went before. It isn’t so, and it shouldn’t be so. If photography is a cultural activity, then those who engage in it have to own to a culture. It need not be that of the conservatoire or the museum, of course not; but without one, they can only reach audiences by chance. That is the cost of illiteracy.

The bold type is mine, I think it matters so much. Make the time to go and have a look at the series and read what is being said about this thing called photography that matters so much to us. READ MORE HERE

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What is it with Russian women photographers and animals?

From Bored Panda

These wonderful photographs by Elena Shumilova plunge the viewer into a beautiful world that revolves around two boys and their adorable dog, cat, duckling and rabbit friends. Taking advantage of natural colors, weather conditions and her enchanting surroundings, the gifted Russian artist creates cozy and heartwarming photography that will leave you amazed.

The boys in the photographs are the photographer’s sons and the animals belong to the farm she runs. “I largely trust my intuition and inspiration when I compose photos. I get inspired mainly by my desire to express something I feel, though I usually cannot tell exactly what that is” Shumilova explained to BoredPanda.

Rural settings, natural phenomena and the changing seasons seem to be the greatest stimuli in her works. “When shooting I prefer to use natural light – both inside and outside. I love all sorts of light conditions – street lights, candle light, fog, smoke, rain and snow – everything that gives visual and emotional depth to the image,” the photographer said.

Shumilova told us her passion for photography manifested in early 2012 when she got her first camera. Her most recent equipment includes the Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera and a 135mm lens. As a mother who doesn’t want to miss out on her growing children, she says she shoots every day and processes the images at night See them all here

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