What is it that makes some of us take pictures? What makes us take pictures of random strangers? Why do we shoot? Why do we shoot street? And what can we express by doing this? And what are our artistic criteria? If there are any.
When I shoot in the streets I cannot determine what I will shoot. I have to accept what I see and decide in an instant if I want to take this picture or not. And now I am wondering about the criteria. What is it that makes me/us take this particular picture? An interesting face? A posture, a movement that attract our attention? An overall composition that attracts and pleases the eye? Yep. All that. We use our aesthetical sense to decide what we want to shoot. And we also use experience and technical know how.
But what if we take a different approach? What if we let chance decide what to shoot? Just hold the camera. And shoot. A random person. A face. Take a picture every 30 seconds of the person that passes by at exactly that moment. Change the criteria. Change the decision making. And work with what is available and not what is on our mind.
And then later at home - doing the usual processing or leaving this to chance? Enhancing expression or just accepting what we found? Let our taste decide or leave it open and don't care about 'the strength' or 'expression' of a picture. And again - what are the criteria? I do it the way I like it. Sure. True. But why? Are my likings very strong arguments or criteria? Why am I doing it exactly that way? What leads me to use certain processing steps? And why am I not happy to leave this to chance as well (and I am not happy the relinquish my personal taste and decision making)?
Why am I asking all these questions? Take a look here.
I recently read a book about John Cage, the ground breaking modern composer that introduced chance operations to composing music. Cage did away with conventional composition criteria and found a way of 'liberating' music from form and aesthetical criteria. He called that the principal of indeterminacy. Of course he was controversial. And of course he was commercially not the most successful componist. But he had a huge impact on the development of modern music and art in general.
So John Cage has taught me something. About art. About our way of making decisions when we create. A piece of music, a poem or a photograph. I learned that I need to take a look at my personal decision making. At my criteria. At why I do or leave certain things. He taught me to be more conscious with my decisions. And I learned that not always what we find 'nice' is the right thing in a creation process.
So do I want to continue with using my internal criteria of 'niceness' in the future? Or can I accept other ways of creating and processing pictures, for example the criteria of pure chance?
So - what is beauty? What is art? What is photography? Not new these questions. But still relevant. And the answers can look different when we think about why we do things the way we do them.