Why do I take photos, and what am I trying to capture?

I've always responded strongly to images. I love photo exhibitions and books.
Even if I don't like the work, it's helpful to see what other people are trying to do,
and to try to identify why it doesn't work for me.

On the most basic level, I want to create images I like to look at, or that other people enjoy.

I've been taking pictures for many years. I started taking it seriously, trying to
identify what I wanted to create and why, after a trip to China in 1998.

I got some images there that I was pleased with, and decided I wanted to work on making
images that were more than snapshots, that had some significance.

I tried to learn to see and capture the images that struck a chord - that affected me in some way,
and to develop the technique to get the image I saw.

I started shooting a lot of film, experimenting with different choices and making the final
decisions in post. Then digital made it easy to take even more pictures, and to manipulate and
fine tune the images.

I've settled on a process of creating images, choosing those that I feel are the 'best' -
and then trying to identify what it is in those images that speaks to me. By doing this I'm
trying to refine my own style,

I first got images I liked with subjects in nature, and still lifes, like this:


I like these shots, but they're missing some things I'm looking for in a good image.

These images are good examples of my compositional style as it stands now - not specifically because
these are black and whites, but strong layout and a tension or immediacy are more obvious in black and white.

bw flowers

These are good examples of the first part of what I'm trying to capture in my images: strong composition,
striking angles, and a feeling that the subject occupies the given space - that it feels 'finished' or balanced there.

Pictures of people - portraits, candids, and action shots - are more challenging, and more rewarding.

It's much harder to capture that 'perfect moment' with a person, they're more complex visually and
they're moving and changing continually. The images can be proportionally more powerful when they work.

I've been trying to create portraits with strong composition and a striking look. There's a lot more potential here,
there's always something happening when you look at a person, and there's communication and empathy that isn't
there in a flower or insect.

bw portraits

These come close to what I'm trying to get, but mostly fail to capture the potential I imagine is there.

In the work I like best so far, I've managed to capture a person in motion at a key instant.
They are in a strong composition, striking pose, and a flattering look.

The best of my Cycropia photos are good examples of what I'm shooting for:


and especially this, my favorite image so far: