#950. My New Year Images: Depth!

By philberphoto | Art & Creativity

Jan 08

In this seminal post, Pascal asks us, what are our plans for photography in 2020? I can’t call mine a New Year resolution, ’cause it is not about resolution. A resolution is about something, the contours of which are a known factor, but here I am talking about exploring and discovering. Discoveries are not always achieved in a managed, regimented process. Quite a few are the result of happenstance, or Lady Luck. Think penicillin, Viagra or Post-its.

Which is why I write: exploring (my responsibility, depending on my resolve) AND discovering (who knows what factors are at play here…).

So, why depth? Depth is the sort of word I love, because it has so many layers, facets and implications.

Seeking depth means not being content with being superficial, with scratching the surface, but seeking the whole

Seeking depth means not being content with first pass, because there may always be more

Seeking depth means going beyond the immediately visible, into the less visible, the hidden, the profound, the still

Seeking depth means going beyond the apparent meaning, to the essential, the existential

Seeking depth means going beyond 2D, beyond even 3D, it means getting -and showing- the inside view

Seeking depth means connecting not only with the flesh, but also with the soul

But what I’d really love to trigger with my images of 2020 is what John Connor as a boy says when he grasps the magnitude of what the Terminator is telling him: “this is deep!”

I don’t -yet- know how to deliberately do deep. But I do know I am going to try hard this year… How about you?


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  • Paul Perton says:

    Splendid Philippe – some serious thought-fodder accompanied by lots of how-to, splendid images. Thank you.

    • philberphoto says:

      Ah Paul, yours was the first comment, and what a sweet opener! Many thanks! You should know that many times when looking at the rear LCD to what what my image looked like, I think to myself: ah, if it were better it might be a bit of a Paul [Perton] shot…

  • Pascal O. says:

    Well, Philippe, if this set of pictures is a first glimpse into your 2020 resolutions, let’s roll. Brilliant set of pics, the last one being, in my humble opinion, absolutely spectacular.

  • Georg says:

    Hello Phillipe. I have bookmarked this page and will return to it throughout this year. Your images are about an essence of life, which we all are so fortunate to be able to discover in our photographic journeys. Stay thirsty, my friend.

    • philberphoto says:

      I am humbled by your praise, Georg! And pleased! And yes, I undertake to stay both hungry and thirsty, and my waistline will be forever greatful….:-)

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    What stunning images you’re starting the New Year with, Philippe! And your thought provoking text will start the creative wheels running for many of us. We all need a push from time to time, so thank you for sharing these marvels. I especially loved the images with the red flowers & the leaves with water drops…..and….and..

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Damn – i WAS going to say “splendid”, Philippe, but I can’t – Paul got in first with that one, and this is the year when we all do something new, something different!

    Which is great – because I spent a lot of last year, reading various “how to” articles and thinking to myself “yes, that’s fine – but all you’re succeeding in doing is stampeding a whole lot of people who are looking to you for advice as to how to be better than everyone else – all into the same direction, so that they end up no different from each other! Isn’t that rather pointless?”

    In the end I gave up scratching my head about it and went back to processing my own photos. And occasionally annoying Pascal with one of them.

    I never even thought I’d ever make it to 2020. In fact, back in the 1940’s I wouldn’t have even considered the possibility of making it from one millenium into another – so at times it’s felt like being a “time traveller”.

    I set off a few years ago to explode the idea that nobody takes photos where they live – that you have to travel somewhere else, to take anything interesting. It was an amazing experience – even in my own street, which is barely half a kilometre long!

    Projecting off that experience, I am now expecting your plumbing the depths to transport us out of 2D, and perhaps into 4D – an alien world where none of us has been before. Without exploring the unknown, we are doomed to stay in the same place – so we must feel a compulsion to jump out of our comfort zone and jump in, as you are, if we are to continue to learn and grow.

    • philberphoto says:

      As i worte to Kristian, Jean-Pierre, I fear that your kind response -for which I thank you- may have set impossibily high expectations on my work-to-be…. hoist on my own petard, all for the vanity of a single post….

  • Dallas says:

    Excellent Philippe, a very deep post, images are gems.

  • John W says:

    Depth – Images 3, 5 and 9; seeing not just what is there, but “what else” is there.

  • Leonard says:

    Yo Pascal

    Love your dark, painterly images here. Very novel.

  • Sean says:

    Wonderful images and words in your ‘to the point’ article. I couldn’t agree more with the intent of your words. For me, it’s a constant revisit to particular locations, so as to ‘get under the surface’ and hopefully peel away the ‘superficial’; that, in itself is a challenge, as the locations I refer to are continually subject to change – both subtle and overt. However, that change agent has deep foundational cornerstone that I attempt to uncover and meaningfully photograph – for what it is. It takes time, and sometimes luck, to read and understand the telltale signs to be able to ‘seek [that] depth’ and know, or appreciate, one has arrived. Hopefully, never, as it’s a lot to do with the journey, not the actual arrival.

    • philberphoto says:

      Your kind comment -many thanks- has brought one word to mind that I haven’t used in my post: temptation. It is that which we must resist. Temptation to do the obvious, to do what we know works, to only do what is in our comfort zone, to stay with what we have instead of what we might acquire…

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Aah, Philippe,
    🙂 ,
    If *this* is the beginning of your discoveries while exploring, I’ll be eagerly looking forward to what’s coming…

    ( Yes, I’ve seen photos by you in the same vein in earlier posts, but not filling a whole post.)

    At the moment I’m listening to Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G minor Op. 57 (on the Swedish radio re-broadcast from the BBC Nocturne program) – and I feel a parallel…

    I smile at the wooden snake and the atmosphere of the staircase fascinates me in all its simplicity –

    – not to speak of the nature photos!

    I *do* like your photos, and I think some of them are brave.

    – * –

    When the feet find a place
    where the heart need not fear,
    the wings of the soul can unfold
    and spread over the land,
    flying the winds from memory
    over newborn countries

    • philberphoto says:

      Many thanks for the kind words, Kristian! I am humbled by your mention of Shostakovitch, in my view the most important composer of the past century. I will never forget listening to Rostropovitch playing his cello concerto in a open-air performance using the great walls of Dubrovnik as a backdrop… Not that this brought either of them a happy life, mind….
      And now I fear that my post -and what lay behind it- has created impossibly high expectations, that I won’t be able to meet….:-(

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        > “.. the most important composer of the past century..”
        Yes, I could agree with that.
        But that quintet I was listening to is perhaps not one of his most important works…

        ( With e.g. the Piano trio no.2 I would not have felt a parallel.
        So no reason to fear “impossibly high expectations”,
        🙂 !)

        There was something about the *way* that music was linking tradition and modernity…

        • philberphoto says:

          Nobody says that “most important works” are always the ones that matter most to everyone, or who resonate most, or the deepest, or… Mozart is a huge composer in my book, and one of the pieces I turn to most often is his “variations sur un thème de Duport”, K 573, played by Anne Queffelec. Most important work, it is not. But it epitomizes his effortless elegance, absolute technical mastery, and bottomless inspiration IMHO. There is great beauty in bonsai trees…. as there can be in the image of just one raindrop or tear… Now that I mention, I should make this into a project: an image of one drop, with depth of course…. Thanks for the discussion, Kristian!

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            I admit it, Philippe,
            that wasn’t a good expression, and I thoroughly agree with your comment.
            Both the complex and the simple, both the traditional and the exploring can be enjoyed and may be great art.

            Perhaps I should have said groundbreaking instead of important, but that doesn’t really express it either.

            After all, words can’t express art…
            Carl Nielsen, Taagen letter
            ( .. the best recording I could find on short notice.)

            ( One drop…
            That reminds me, canoeing with my first (Ikonta rangefinder) camera in my teens I tried to catch the rebounce of a drop of water falling from my paddle against a misty background, and very luckily one of half a film of 6×4.5 cm did it – their rhythm helped!)

  • Job H. says:

    Maybe later I will add another response… But I already want to share my appreciation for the article and the images: simply stunning. Worthy of returning to, absorbing the mood and meaning. Wonderful.

  • Frank Field says:

    I find subtle side-lighting so very appealing in a photograph. Your image of the spiral stair case just grabs and holds my attention. This image has depth on many levels and, as is true of many excellent images, the eye is attracted and rewarded for careful looking. Thanks for sharing this image, Pascal and Happy 2020.

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Superb post, Philippe… and I won’t add to all the praise, others said it all 🙂
    Just that, amongst many pictures here, your stairs evoke to me what drew me so strongly to the early work of Jay Maisel… he was, in my young years, my (never reached :D) inspiration for the use of color… gorgeous!

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