simonking

Observation and Investigation for Documentary Photography

If the intention behind a photograph is to produce something photographic, weighted by aesthetic merit, or artistic expression, then it is your observation via the camera that you are most likely going to share in that image.

No Photography is Wasteful If It’s Part of the Growing Process

Failing to succeed doesn't mean failing to progress. I think for many of us the last few pandemic years have spotlighted this sentiment, especially as when it comes to photography “success” is already such a broad and nebulous concept.

Should Black and White Imply the ‘Age’ of a Photograph?

In many art practices, a new method or process does not usually automatically override the old one. You can still use berries and charcoal to paint a cave wall, paint on a canvas, or put pencil to paper. These do not become irrelevant just because a Wacom tablet can be used to make a digital illustration or a VR for a 3D painting.

Producing Narrative Photographic Work for a Small Audience

Producing photographs, writing, and ideas to share with others is such a wonderful way to direct creative energy, and for many, this approach involves setting themselves up as a photography business practice in some way, whether that’s offering the work as a product or as a service.

Composing Photographs Across a Double Page Spread

If I can afford to, I always try to spend time in shops where I know there is a good selection of photo books. The books offer me inspiration for my photographs as well as the way I present my own work in printed publications.

Whatever Story You Have, Tell It Slowly as a Photographer

There's an expression in relation to investment banking I've heard which I think translates quite well into advice for documentary photographers: "it's not timing the market, its time in the market."

With Photo Zines, Less Can Be More

All of my recent motivation in photography has come from the desire to see actualized publications of my projects, in the wake of the wonderfully positive response to my recent Bulgaria zine and USA Digest.

‘Anti-Minimalism’ in Documentary Photography

Minimalism can be such an effective and beautiful way to present information, especially in photographs where there needs to be only one subject or central point of clarity. However, while many seem to subscribe to the “less is more” sensibility of minimalism, which can mean chiseling away at anything non-essential, I don’t find this a useful or practical way to work when it comes to documentary photography.

Layer Elements with Longer Lenses in Street Photography

One of the most effective ways to fill a frame with information, particularly in street photography, is to layer elements of your composition, either in two dimensions along the X and Y axis or in three with the Z axis.

My Considerations Photographing the Military in Washington DC

While on assignment in Washington, D.C. in late January earlier this year, I had to think very carefully about the situation I was documenting. The events around the Inauguration of Joe Biden had swung the global spotlight around, and I knew that there would be scrutiny of any historical artifact that was produced in this space at this time.

The Existential Argument for the Photographic Print

When I die I will no longer have active control over my archive. My will will outline that my negatives are left to any archive that may want them -- depending on whether my career looks anything like I’d want it to, this may be one or two, or none. The main responsibility falls to me to do what I can while alive if I’m to enjoy being represented in the photography community by work that legitimizes me.

When Bokeh Isn’t Best: Appreciating a Deeper Depth of Field

Recently, the more I study my photographs, the more I feel that bokeh is cheating me out of a more substantial image. I really like photographs with a lot of visual complexity -- well presented, not chaotic, but a clear arrangement of multiple elements.

If Sharpness Truly Mattered, Cartier-Bresson Would Be a Joke

While teaching a recent workshop, I joked that street photography was the only genre where people would buy $3,000 worth of cameras and lenses and then deliberately use them to make out of focus, grainy, imperfect images. This led to a pretty interesting discussion about the merits to imperfection.

The Value of a ‘Photographic’ Photograph

Discussing what makes a “photographic” photograph can seem like a bit of a tautology, but I think that my understanding of what I’m trying to achieve with my photographs has been helped by this idea.

There is No ‘Formula’ for Good Photo Composition

It’s very easy to get stuck in grooves in photography, to find something that makes sense or comes from a position of authority; once habits are formed around ideas about genre, style, or technique, it can be very difficult to break out of those constraints.

Is Isolation Overrepresented in Street and Documentary Photography?

One of the byproducts of the new-wave approach to street photography, which champions anonymity, mystery, and a cinematic aesthetic, is that there is an absolute abundance of images featuring silhouetted figures and shadow play. These are the kind of images I started off creating, and there are some fantastic artists who have utilized this style over the years, my favorite of these being Fan Ho, one of the classic progenitors of this style.