Your Categories Make No Sense

Your Categories Make No Sense

I’ve been told that the categories here make no sense, but they do to me. Sure, I categorize based on recognized genres, but how I feel about a photo matters more.

Nature or Landscape?

Photography has many well-known genres including landscape, street, portrait, still life, nature, macro, abstract, etc… Then there are the personal spins each photographer puts on a genre. Style. When you look at a Martin Parr collection you are going to get street and reportage. But because it’s Martin Parr, you’re really going to get COLOR.

Elliott Erwitt is a street and documentary photographer, but the best work he does is when there’s a dog in the viewfinder. Galen Rowell shot landscape, nature, and adventure. He did so at altitudes I’ll never see unless I’m in a plane. One of my new favorites, Anya Anti, makes dreamlike portraits that require hours of planning and post-production.

Abstract or Nature?

Photographic categories are starting points. The photographer jumps off them trying to get somewhere personal and new. David duChemin has written extensively about vision, what the photographer is trying to create inside the photograph, what the photographer brings to an image as opposed to what she takes away from it. Ansel Adams famously said that we make photographs, we don’t just take them. Ansel also said that “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” (For those bad at distances, he’s talking about the photographer’s brain.)

What category would you put it in?

So what does any of this have to do with my site categories? Simple – I put my images in the categories that match what I was trying to create, or what I made out of it after. Many, if not most, of my abstracts are natural things viewed in different ways. They could just as easily be put in the Nature category, but they are abstract to me.

Some things in the Nature category are probably really landscapes, but that wasn’t how I felt when I made the picture. The simple answer – things go where I think they should go. Don’t worry about it.