Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Max Pinckers dos and don'ts: Question Yourself, Question Everything

all pictures by Max Pinckers from Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty

A late arrival on the Do's and Don'ts lists of last year, here is Max Pinckers. Max has made his hugely successful profile of Mumbai, the Masala-styled Fourth Wall. The book of that series has sold out but he's following it up with a book on escapees from Forced Marriages and (Honour) Family Violence. It's called 
 Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty and it's coming out  later in the year and ...

you can pre-order it here. 

And read my book review of the Fourth Wall for Photo-Eye here.

And an interview with Max for the BJP here.

Max Pinckers Dos and Don'ts

I’d like to start by saying that there aren’t really any rules in photography that need be followed. Although it’s always good to create some for yourself in order to construct certain restrictions, developing a space in which the need to maintain such restrictions stimulates a creative approach. Start with a concept, an abstract notion, an idea. Mold it, challenge it, write it down and discuss it until it’s purified to such clarity that you can recognize it when scanning the environment and surroundings. Train your eyes to see, and not just to look. When in doubt, always reference back to the initial idea, regroup and re-examine. If necessary, start again (a mid-project crisis can be very healthy). No one will give you the idea, it won’t be hiding from you either, it will present itself to you when least expected. The tricky part is recognizing it (and its potential value) when it does.

Don’t let your subject highjack the initial concept. Subjects have a tendency to grab all the attention, leaving little room for interpretation that goes beyond what is visible in the photographs. This is where choosing the right subject is of quite some importance, although not crucial in conveying your intentions. A subject is of course necessary, but only functions as a vehicle with which the initial idea is communicated. From my experience, subjects that already have some form of fiction incorporated within them seem to work best, providing a stage onto which Reality somehow reveals itself every now and then by exposing its own veil. This is an approach that goes hand in hand with (documentary) photography, its indexical relationship to reality yet its impossibility to contain it.

Give your idea and intentions the space to breathe and develop. Avoid making typographies, one dimensional photo series or the use of repetitive image strategies. Challenge every image with a fresh and critical approach towards the idea. Combine images to create narratives. Become a storyteller. If you can’t seem to find a way to translate what you want to say into a still image, try using words, other people’s images, found footage, sculptures or videos.

Listen to your images. Let them talk back to you and you’ll be surprised with how much they can teach you about yourself. Above all, always be critical and question the medium, the subject, the approach and your own position.


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