Posted by: travelrat | September 9, 2016

The Abraham Principle

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‘If you have a violin, you’re not a violinist, just somebody who owns a fiddle. But, if you have a camera, you’re a photographer’

I suppose you could call it a corollary to last week’s ‘Smoke Signal Syndrome’ The simpler it becomes to operate something, the less thought goes into what it produces. It’s so easy to take a photograph these days, and most of them get confined to the digital equivalent of the shoebox under the spare bed, never to see the light of day again.

I first became aware of this trend several years ago, on an organised walk. We rounded the crest of a hill, and beheld a beautiful valley, and a guy near me whipped out his camera and took a picture without breaking step!

Since then, I’ve usually carried my camera in my bag, so that, if I want to take a picture, I have to stop, and take it out … and think about how I’m going to compose that image.

This, I call the Abraham Principle, named after the Abraham brothers, George and Ashley. They were noted photographers in the English Lake District in the first half of the 20th Century. Until fairly recently, if you picked up a postcard in a souvenir shop, it would be likely that the Abraham brothers took it.

Now, in those days, you couldn’t just slip your camera into a pocket. They were expensive, hand-crafted affairs, usually with a lot of wood, leather and brass in them, weighing about 20 lbs. Add to that a tripod, on which you could mount a light field gun, and a couple of boxes of photographic plates, and you’d have quite a load to carry.

Now, I don’t think they’d pack all that gear up, haul it up the mountain and set it up until the conditions were right, and they really wanted that picture. And, they probably wouldn’t do it unless they were certain of a perfect one.

Above all, they thought about it. And that, to my mind, is what distinguishes an ‘image’ from a rather mundane ‘snap’. It’s a picture into which some thought has gone. And, if you can do that … you’ll be a photographer, my son!

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Responses

  1. Very interesting and so true!

  2. Absolutely!


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