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Thos converging lines

Rules, rules, rules. We all look for them to help guide us, especially when setting out in a new profession, project or personal endeavour. What are the things I can and cannot do according to accepted social norms? What have others done before that are good and bad? What are the legal as well as ethical aspects that I need to be aware of and what are the ‘truisms’ (i.e. a statement that is obviously true but probably says nothing new or interesting) that sometimes provide the unspoken rules of how one should operate?

It’s the last of these that interest me most, especially those so called truisms that may not actually be, well, true. Here are five that, as a photographer, I’m sure you will have heard at some point in your career that I’d like to pick up on and see if they are indeed true. …

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A Place for Reflection

This seemed like a good idea so I thought I would capture my own stream of (photographic) consciousness made on a wet afternoon in November. No reasons. No order. (Maybe) no sense. Here they are regardless.

  • A camera is really a notebook. If you carry it with you at all times you will make many ‘notes’.
  • At its core, photography is the art of looking.
  • Looking is not the same as seeing. You can look and not see but you won’t see if you don’t look.
  • A photograph is made when reality joins with imagination.
  • There does not have to be any reasons for your photographs. Just go with the mood of the moment. …

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Fujifilm X100F by the author

We’re constantly being told that photography should not be about the gear but instead should be all about the image. It doesn’t matter what gear you use, a great photographer will create an amazing image no matter what camera she uses to expose the scene and capture it on sensor or film.

The kind of gear that was available to some of the greats of yesteryear was, after all, far inferior in terms of light gathering capacity, ease of use, choice of lenses or post processing capabilities yet still images were captured that have stood the test of time. Whether they are the revealing portraits of Jane Bown, the street photographs of Cartier-Bresson, the conflict images of Don McCullin or the fashion photographs of Richard Avedon all had a distinctive style that was instantly recognisable and transcended totally whatever camera it was they used. …

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Dominic Cummings. Photo from

If you want to understand the likely trajectory of the new Conservative government you could do worse than study the blog posts of Dominic Cummings. In case you missed this announcement amongst all the cabinet reshuffling that happened last week, Cummings is to be Boris Johnson’s new “special adviser”.

*For what it’s worth I could equally have used any of the adjectives ‘disruptive’, ‘powerful’ or ‘dangerous’ here I think.

Cummings has had three previous significant advisory roles either in UK government or in support of political campaigns:

  • Campaign director at Business for Sterling (the campaign against the UK joining the Euro) between 1999 and…

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Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon, July 20th 1969 photographed by Neil Armstrong

Can it really have been 50 years ago today that Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first men to touch down on the moon? I remember listening to the landing on the radio in the evening of the 20th June 1969 and again next day (UK time) as the astronauts stepped out onto the grey powdery lunar surface. Myself and a good proportion of the world’s population were equally captivated by this huge event and monumental achievement.

As an 11 year old boy, not yet sure of where he was going in the world, I think the NASA moon mission more than anything fired me up to take an interest in science, study physics at university and eventually to pursue a career in IT ending up at IBM, one of the many companies that made the landing possible by providing the compute capability of some of the mission control systems. …

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Not the Helsinki Bus Station

I have to admit that I’d not heard of the Helsinki Bus Station Theory until reading about it in the This column will change your life section of The Guardian newspaper.

In brief this is a theory put forward by the by Finnish-American photographer Arno Minkkinen. The Helsinki bus station, and the routes out of it which to begin with all go in the same direction, is a metaphor for how, when starting out on your creative photographic journey, you tend to create images that will inevitably have been made before by the masters of the genre you specialise in. You, in other words, are following the same route as them. The faint hearted, when realising this, jump off the bus, go back to the station and get a different bus only to have the same thing happen again. The more brave creative souls that stay on the bus however realise that eventually the buses go off in different directions. If they “stay on the f*cking bus” they will eventually see the difference in the route they are taking and start to build their own photographic style. …

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Things are becoming clearer… (Image by the author)

So you call yourself a photographer? Sure, you’ve got an expensive camera (or three) and more lenses than will fit in all your camera bags (of which you have more than you know what to do with). You know all the ‘rules’ of photography, can find you way around Photoshop and know the difference between Rembrandt and Butterfly lighting. You can hold your own in a discussion of Bailey versus Donovan and regularly join in with the lamenting of the state of the pictures that win the annual Taylor Wessing Portrait Photography Prize. …

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Just over three years ago I wrote a post called Happy 2013 and Welcome to the Fifth Age! The ‘ages’ of (commercial) computing discussed there were:

  • First Age: The Mainframe Age (1960–1975)
  • Second Age: The Mini Computer Age (1975–1990)
  • Third Age: The Client-Server Age (1990–2000)
  • Fourth Age: The Internet Age (2000–2010)
  • Fifth Age: The Mobile Age (2010–20??)

One of the things I wrote in that article was this:

“Until a true multi-platform technology such as HTML5 is mature enough, we are in a complex world with lots of new and rapidly changing technologies to get to grips with as well as needing to understand how the new stuff integrates with all the old legacy stuff (again). …


Pete Cripps

Photographer - Blogger - Software Architect - Co-author of ‘The Process of Software Architecting’.

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