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Thinking vs Feeling Photography: Discuss

Today I read an interview with photographer Bruce Gilden (warning, some of Bruces images are confronting) whose photography of his time in Haiti was featured in the January edition of Leica’s LFI magazine.

In the interview Bruce was asked about the how he seems to have a real instinctual energy in his images. Bruce answered:

“Something either affects me or it doesn’t. It’s not a thinking process. It’s like in sports: when you go onto the field you don’t have time to think, you have to react. This is how I work: If I see something, I take a picture. If I don’t see anything, I don’t.”

Now Bruce’s style of photography is confronting and controversial (not only his subject matter but the way he goes about it when on the street – see this video to see that) but whether you’re into it or not I thought his quote was worth pondering.

Often what sets a great image apart from a good one is the feeling it conveys – something that almost always starts with the photographer and what they are feeling when they take a photograph.

While I’m not sure I completely agree with Bruce that ‘it’s not a thinking process’ – thinking about your images can also add a lot – I do believe that learning to ‘feel’ and convey that feeling in your images is something that many photographers could do well to focus more upon.

What do you think about this Bruce Gilden quote? Do you bring feeling to your images or are you more a ‘thinking photographer’?

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Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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