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Acquisition or Submission

I read a quote yesterday attributed to Michael Kenna to the effect that photographers think of their work as acquisition when they should think of it as submission. I tend to agree and I’m definitely prone to this myself. You plan a day’s shooting. You look at the map and visualise the location. You’re already imagining the kind of pictures you want to come home with, regardless of what you find when you arrive. I find I get better results when I walk slowly and allow myself to see what’s really there in front of me, visualising it in two dimensions. Submitting to what is there instead of trying to acquire something pre-selected.

The same goes when selecting and editing from a shoot. I look for the shots I expected instead of allowing the quality of each shot to speak for itself. I also can’t help thinking of the intended audience and whether they will “get” the shot. If you think a shot is good then it is, regardless of what others might or might not think.

I sometimes like to go back through the catalogue to find shots I haven’t yet processed. The passing of time allows me to forget the preconceptions I had of the shoot and just find the quality of each shot. This is how I found the three black and white shots I posted yesterday, which I really like.

Despite knowing all of this it’s still a difficult thing to let go and submit to what’s really there.


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