Field Photography

10-2012 010 WPIn contrast to Street photography, Field photography is not a recognized category, as far as I know.

I’m not particularly comfortable with Street photography and do little of it. I occasionally dip my toe in when I’m in my city’s downtown area, but it isn’t my usual objective when I head out to shoot. I don’t “get” a lot of Street photography.

10-2012 015 WPI’ve seen some very interesting photos in that category, of course, but the majority of it just leaves me thinking, “Huh?” or “So what?” I’m probably not a good judge of photos in that category. I’d recuse myself if ever invited to judge a Street photography contest, though it seems extremely unlikely that any organization would ever invite me to do that.

But I am quite comfortable with “Field” photography, a sub-category of Landscape photography. You know: Standing in or near fields while making photographs. Because I spend so much time traveling on my motorcycle, I find myself in or near fields more often than in an urban environment like that of the downtown area of my city.

Hey! Let’s start a movement and call it “Field Photography”. There’s no good reason for it, but it would be something to do. Let us keep the following guidelines in mind when pioneering the new category.

  • Always call it Field Photography. People will gradually get used to the term. After sufficient time it will begin to be thought of as a “real” category of photography.

  • Let’s agree that a Field camera is not necessary. Except for the “purists”, who can spend their time fuming and arguing endlessly on online forums about this point, rather than actually engaging in Field photography.

  • Those practitioners who always take the moral high ground can write articles, blog posts, and comments about not trampling the cabbage, corn, and sugar beets, etc.

  • The renegades will be those who make photographs in large greenhouses. The rest of us who make real Field photos can look down upon, and denigrate their “work”.

  • The moralists can use film cameras. The pragmatists can use digital full-frame cameras. The Great Unwashed can use iPhones. Purists will only use Field Cameras. Moralistic pragmatists will only use Leica M9s, of course.

  • If enough enthusiasts join the movement, we’ll be able to produce a infinitesimally small percentage of excellent photos and a massive volume of little-better-than-snapshot photos. 

  • 10,000,000 photos should be enough to get the whole thing rolling, so grab your digicams and iPhones…

10-2012 006 WPThe photos shown here were taken in Oak Glen, an area known for apple orchards near Yucaipa and Beaumont, California. I had a handful of Kodak 100 color frames left on a roll in the Nikon N90s and was riding to a family gathering, a baby shower, a couple days after Thanksgiving. I wanted to switch to some faster black and white for the shower, so I decided to use up the remaining color frames at Oak Glen before riding to the shower in Yucaipa. 

Because I made these field photos with film, I’ll probably be categorized as a Moralist.

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