The art of seeing #12: The same subject but an endlessly changing appearance

(Image credit: Benedict Brain)
About Benedict Brain

(Image credit: Benedict Brain)

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine. 

There’s a saying that if you look through your camera’s viewfinder and you’ve already seen the picture, you shouldn’t take it. It’s already been done! It’s a sentiment I agree with to some extent. However, there is a danger that you might never take another image. 

Perhaps by taking the picture that has been ‘done before’, you can get the creative juices flowing. Perhaps it can act as a catalyst to evolve an idea and take it into new territory. Who knows? Taking the shot has got to be better than hanging your camera up.

Recently I found myself at sea – for a long time. I was mesmerised by the ever-changing light conditions, the colour of the sea and the texture of the water’s surface. However, every time I looked through the viewfinder, all I could see were images that reminded me of the work of some of the photographers I most admire, such as Hiroshi Sugimoto, Shomei Tomatsu and Garry Fabian Miller. They’ve photographed the sea in much the same way, with a dead straight horizon in the exact middle of the frame. Perhaps it’s a natural creative instinct – one I could not resist, even if I had seen it before, so I started taking and collecting seascapes.

I used the same focal length for every image and found the individual images worked well as a grid, drawing attention to the diversity of the conditions. I may not have not added anything to the canon of ocean images, but I have enjoyed the process and the results. I have many more days at sea scheduled, so perhaps this will be the creative springboard I need to evolve the project further. BB

• Other articles in the Art of Seeing series

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Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He graduated with a degree in photography from the Derby School of Art in 1991 (now University of Derby), where he was tutored and inspired by photographers John Blakemore and Olivier Richon, amongst others. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and also sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel.

Until July 2018 Benedict was editor of Britain’s best-selling consumer photography magazine, Digital Camera Magazine. As a journalist he met and interviewed some of the world’s greatest photographers and produced articles on a wide range of photography related topics, presented technique videos, wrote in-depth features, curated and edited best-in-class content for a range of titles including; Amateur Photographer, PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Professional Photography and Practical Photoshop. He currently writes a regular column, The Art of Seeing, for Digital Camera magazine.