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The Holistic Photography Approach of Ben Evans

February 13th, 2013 No Comments

Ben Evans presents, not a tutorial, but, an unusual analysis and a partly philosophical approach in what he calls Holistic Photography,’ published on DPSchool.

Evans’s philosophical bent is made evident by sentences such as “The world is apparently 4.54 billion years old” and “If we were content with what the world presented us with, we would still be living in caves.”

As you read Evans’s article, you may well conclude that he ‘overthinks’ it.  Bear in mind that his contribution is an analysis-cum-approach to give a photographer a fresh perspective on our art-cum-science . . . having said which one may as well state that the article opens with exploring the polarity between art and science that some photographers – according to Evans – are wont to fall prey to.

Several questions and position-points demonstrate how and why a strong leaning either toward science or art is taken by a photographer, and how and why it is worthwhile to fuse the two into, shall we say, a ‘holistic’ approach.

Evans says that this can be done “by providing a structure, the Quartet” which comprises of “the Idea, the Light, the Composition and the Timing.”

This structure is nothing if not thorough.  Even Composition is subdivided into two parts; ‘Command’ and ‘Significance’.  Command can be considered the ‘hard’ and scientific aspect of Composition whereas Significance is the term for the ‘soft’ and subliminal cues in the Composition.  When broken up like that, one is provoked into putting in more careful consideration into the act of composing – but one may also run the risk of over-analyzing or overthinking a simple, natural opportunity.

Consider this: over and above a division between art and science, which Evans identifies, many photographers are gravitated toward, and have a bias for, one or another component of Evans’s ‘Quartet’!  Indeed, some famous photographers are renowned for their magical lighting (did someone say Adams?) while others are celebrated for ‘capturing the moment’ (Timing) (did someone say Cartier-Bresson?)

Because of this fact – notwithstanding Evans’s advocacy of holism – each photographer may find something in the ‘Quartet’ to expand his/her understanding of his/her own particular liking or bias!


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