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30 Days of Batis 2/40 CF
A Batis adventure and a personal photography scratch book with a creative touch.
Sharing a new post every day for the next 30 days.




Day #19 – photographic identity

Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 2/40 CF – f/8, 1/40sec, ISO250, raw Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 2/40 CF – f/8, 1/40sec, ISO250, raw
Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

I believe everyone has their own point of view to the world and also 'a photographic eye' that guides their photography. Most of us aren't very conscious about it, but nevertheless it's there and consists of visual imagery that we have absorbed in our life whether it comes from the history of photography or five penny comics from a local second-hand bookshop (I belong to that latter group). The photographic eye and your own point of view to the world are things that make your photography personal and different from the others. But the great paradox is that even if we are individuals with our unique lives, yet I see that most photographers are following certain genres and motifs whether it is fashion, street, landscape or other usual suspects. The problem is that these genres offer loads of technically perfect pictures which are 'stunning' and find ourselves to appreciate them, but they often fail to connect with us on a deeper level. In fact, there are so much of these 'stunning' pictures and algorithms feeding us even more of them, that it all becomes just noise. And many get stuck into process of reproducing these pictures because they occupy so much of visual imagery around us. Great pictures come and go with the 'likes' and 'thumps ups', but which are the ones that you really connect with and gets to stay within your life as a some sort of a aesthetic waypoints along the road?

I firmly believe that getting personal with your photography is enough to make it interesting. You don't need to climb up to the mountains or do dangerous stunts to make your pictures worthwhile to look – that is only required in the bubbles of social media. I believe that when photography gets personal and further away from the usual overpopulated genres it generally makes it more interesting. Of course you need to learn the craft and culture your taste, but in the core of things it is about your identity and subject you are approaching from your point of view. You make things interesting by choosing them from your point of view and expressing them through your identity. But how do you develop such an abstract thing as photographic identity? Well, you do the work. To become better photographer you have mental and emotional work to do such as finding and refining the 'why' behind your photography. Why do you shoot the things you shoot and why does it matter? Not saying you should close yourself to the monastery to contemplate them, but they are fundamental questions that define your actions as a photographer. The better you know who you are and why you choose the subjects you choose, the better you can guide yourself and find the path to you own photographic eye. The question of your own photographic identity is much more important than what lens do you shoot with or does the brand x has better rendition than the brand y.

Learning different photography techniques and tricks with post processing is no rocket science and if you are a technical person, you can come pretty good with them relatively quick. But it often takes considerably more time to learn your own way of seeing and to recognize your visual identity as a photographer, that can be a long road. However, one major waypoint on that road is the one where you cease to imitate others and start doing your work from your own point of view. It often requires a bit melancholic phase where you become discontent or even frustrated with your work. Maybe you throw things away, give up and something dies within you, but from this disillusionment there often borns a new way of working, more concentrated to things that you find authentic and important. And from that point you start to create the world from your own perspective, because you know why you photograph and why it does matter – you know your identity as a photographer.