Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I’d like to explain what prompted me to do this and what motivates me.
I started my photographic journey quite a while ago. It was 1975 and I was 20 years old when I accidentally visited a photographic exhibition. It was an important day for me as it taught me to start seeing the world a little differently to how I normally saw it.
I think that in the same way that musicians often hear different aspects,components, structures and devices in the music they listen to and perform, that photographers develop a way to view and see the world and things around them differently.
Jo Atamon is not my real name or identity. It’s a pseudonym as well as an acronym. In my case it stands for Jack Of All Trades And Master Of None. It’s not that I think I’m not any good at the things I do but more that everything is ‘work in progress’. Whatever I do in life there’s always the possibility to do it better! There are so many brilliant executants in all fields that give us opportunities to learn from. The internet really has helped to give exposure to people across the world that have their own particular take on things. There’s just so much to learn.
“…Jack Of All Trades And Master Of None”
I’m a photographer, musician,teacher, conductor,and composer and have been for most of my working life. I haven’t achieved mastery in any of those areas but have had (and still have) a great deal of pleasure from learning and trying to get better.
“Maybe it’s possible to be a Mo Atajon…”
How many of us can claim complete mastery in anything? And if so, at what cost? The lure of doing more than one thing as well as I can is much more appealing to me. I also think it’s much healthier to measure skills and progress against oneself rather than others. Maybe it’s possible to be a Mo Atajon (Master Of All Trades And Jack Of None) but for me that’s not possible. It must be lovely to be a Mo but I’m more than happy just being a Jo.
My (photographic) decisive moment.
It had all started for me a long time ago in 1975. I’d had no interest in photography at all, not in the slightest. I’d owned a Kodak Instamatic camera as a teenager but that was about it. At the time I was a full time music student studying composition and flute at Dartington College of Arts in South Devon. The largest department here was the music department but there was also theatre,dance and art departments. I’d been studying at Dartington for almost nine months before it happened. I remember walking into the students union on campus to be greeted by a an exhibition of students photographic work. I can still remember clearly the ‘trigger’ that ignited my interest and eventual passion for photography. If I describe the image that kick started all of this it would probably sound a bit silly and trite, but it wasn’t to me.
“something beautiful in the mundane.”
The image in question was a simple black and white print of an old GPO telephone box door handle, the kind that had a scalloped shape and was chrome plated. It managed to stop me in my tracks. I can remember just staring at it. The photographer had managed to grab my attention and made me really look and focus on what was in front of me……,to show me something beautiful in the mundane.
“..a beautiful photograph, framed, exposed and printed exquisitely.”
It was an object I’d seen and used hundreds of times before but never realised that it could look so wonderful and so interesting. It was a beautiful photograph, framed, exposed and printed exquisitely. It was in sharp focus where it needed to be with a wide dynamic range yielding deep blacks and bright whites with fantastic range of tones inbetween. It had a real and unique quality. This was my epiphany. I know that might sound a bit pretentious, but it had a big impact on me. The nearest thing I’d experienced that was anything like that were ‘peak musical experiences‘. (something I still crave).
Anyway shortly after that the questions started popping into my head. How did the photographer achieve this? What camera did he/she use? What kind of lens? How was it printed so wonderfully? What was going on here?…….. the learning, the inquisitiveness and the questions had started.
“Does the camera lie?”
There is definitely an “inner game’ in music and most certainly an ‘inner game’ in photography. The ‘inner game’ is the process of improving ones skills away from the instrument or in this case the camera. Basically that by thinking, analysing and being alert to your subject,it’s technical and artistic aspects, it is possible to gain confidence, experiment and improve. I started looking for and ‘tracking down’ great practitioners in no particular chronological or category order. Obvious choices were photographers such as Ansel Adams, the great American landscape photographer, Don McCullen the British photo journalist and war correspondent, Annie Leibowitz the incredible American portrait photographer and many many others. Not only can you get a lifetimes pleasure from seeing their work but you can learn so much by analysing their technique.
“What is excluded is just as important as what is included.”
Choice of lens, direction of lighting, angle of view, framing and composition, choice of film stock,sensor sensitivity, depth of field and printing/image production techniques can all be understood if you look hard enough. Does the camera lie? I think the simple answer is, it does and it doesn’t. What I do know, is that the photographer can influence the viewer by his or her choices and what the photographer wants you to see or focus on. What is excluded is often just as important as what is included.
Anyway, towards the end of 2017 I decided I wanted to get more involved in photography, and to start experimenting with landscape, architectural, portrait , street, documentary and live music photography. I’d used (and still use) Facebook to do this. I’ve always enjoyed documenting the everyday things I do, the people I meet and the places I go. For me time is precious and I’ve always enjoyed looking back and remembering. My mind is packed full of great memories of amazing people, fantastic places and happy (and some sad) occasions. Recently I decided that I needed a better platform to achieve this, a platform that could be better organised, a platform where I could write a little about what it is I’m attempting to achieve and a platform for communicating with friends and photographers, to share ideas, subjects, locations and to be critiqued. Regarding this last bit …critiqued, I mean it, don’t hold back tell it as it is. I can take it, believe me. I once worked as a musician in a ‘friends” studio, recording some saxophone overdubs for a project he was working on, when over the headphones came a sentence I’ve never forgotten……..“Do you want to try that on a different saxophone or will that be worse?” (I hoped he was talking about the transpositional issues with his choice of key centres) Anyway, I’ve got thick skin and he continues to be one of my closest friends. So believe me when I say its not endorsement I’m looking for but a kind of ‘forum’ to share thoughts.
ABOUT JO”S BLOG OF THE DAY
Blog of the day is generally (although not always) a look at a particular image. I’ll try and say something that either attempts to illustrate the thought process behind the photograph or explain what it is that I like about the image and occasionally giving some technical information too.
At other times it just might be the wild ramblings of an old mans brain, hopefully with some reference to image making.