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Today’s post is about pleasures. Special pleasures. Yes, that’s my cunning plan for today.

Why pleasures? Because, for me at least, work is a pleasure. Sometimes work involves doing things which are not part of the job description, but that only adds to the pleasure.

I take photos. So what? Who doesn’t? Millions of people around the world do. The last few years have seen monthly sales of all kinds of digital cameras in the region of 6 million, so hundreds of millions of people use them to take pictures. Why am I writing about this? Primarily for two reasons.

First, photography is an art. I know, how much more so must it have been in the past! The artist would use equipment unavailable to the ordinary mortals and, well, take pictures. He was special. He had the edge: a professional camera, a dark room, or money to pay for a state-of-the art laboratory, by contemporary standards. He would operate from an atelier and have virtual monopoly on photos for ID cards and other official papers. And then mass technology arrived and … CLIC! It was all over.

Putting aside all business, marketing and strategic considerations about obsolescent business models, anyone can be a photographer these days. Professional state-of-the art equipment can be had for the sort of money that even less than an affluent amateur photographer can scrape up. Or borrow, because modern finance goes a long way towards making consumer credit easily available.

So CLIC! and good-bye to life in the old world of exclusive photography. And just because hundreds of millions of people take pictures it doesn’t mean that their pictures cannot be works of art. The distribution of the monopoly on talent has probably not changed much over time. Something else has changed though: anyone can be an artist if they want to. All you have to do is study hard, have a bit of talent or luck, or preferably all three. Everyone is capable of doing something special. Professionals don’t have the monopoly any more. And this is what gives me great joy – making people happy by giving them equipment which unleashes their creative instincts is one of the things which motivate me to work harder. Hence, today’s post.

Second, I’m writing about these pleasures because the ABC Data Photography Competition is now open. I am really excited about this competition as I am a member of the judging panel. And unlike some amateur photographers, I am impartial to whose camera lens a good photo is a product of, mine or someone else’s. I like good photography, full stop. I like interesting photography, whether it implies the technique or the subject matter. I like photography that strikes a chord in my heart or lodges itself in my mind, and which holds me spellbound thanks to an abstract pattern of apparently ordinary objects or an image captured and frozen in time by the camera lens.

I have my own favourites, of course. Juxtapositions! Fruit displays at market stalls that resemble a mosaic. Just shapes and colours. You can name the different kinds of fruit in the picture but individual names fade out in the splash of colour which makes the composition, tracing both regular and tangled shapes. Then there is the dark and vaguely menacing splodge contrasting with the tyre tracks cut deep into the sand across which it seems to be moving – a herd of elephants. The sand is in shades of yellow and brown; the elephants glisten with the rain that has just fallen – almost black in colour, like some extraterrestrial creatures. I like the softness of cascading water captured in the moment of splashing into a rocky canyon whose basalt bottom appears impermeable.

I looked out for extraordinary compositions among the dozens of entries we had received, for the skill of capturing a story in a single moment, a sense of beauty and its negation, for harmony and chaos intertwined, for proportion in composition and disproportional amount of subject matter in the frame.

And I found what I was looking for.

But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t share some interesting data with you. So:

Global sales of photo cameras referred to earlier – data from a country that is famous for popularising photography:

And some fascinating facts – link to the Fotomaniak pages where you can see the oldest woman photographer in the world! Impressive (the story, not the way it’s told)!


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