Those of you who follow my work regularly will have noticed that I’ve been posting an unusual style of photograph recently. The photographs often have a blurred, painterly effect, even a little abstract, which has probably led some of you to believe that either:
a) I’ve been drunk when making photographs,
b) I’ve been drunk when post processing my photographs,
c) I’ve gone mad and forgotten how to make a sharp photograph,
d) all of the above…
Well, as fun as it would probably be to fall into one or all of those categories, it is very much a deliberate act that I’ve been practicing for a very long time now. This type of photography is called Intentional Camera Movement, or ICM for short. You may wonder why I’m only now sharing these photographs with you and many of you may even question what the hell ICM actually is?
To answer the first of those questions, ‘Why am I only now sharing these photographs with you?’
I guess its partly a confidence thing and partly a case of falling into a bit of a trap in trying to gain a following.
This type of photography takes a lot of practice and a long time before you start getting results that you can be happy with. This is mainly due to the very experimental nature of this genre of photography. There are not really any rules or quick tips to follow. You can’t pick up a book or a tutorial and get instant results like you can with other more conventional styles of photography (e.g. landscape, portrait, nature). Only now after a couple of years of playing and persevering, do I feel like I’m getting results that I’m happy to put out to be judged.
Most photographers, creatives, artists have a certain level of insecurity about their work and whether it’s any good or not. If they tell you they don’t then either they’re in the 2% of amazing people or they’re lying to you. I think that this insecure feeling is multiplied for people on the fringes of conventional art. Those people that push their creativity to almost transcend multiple genres or forms of art. Especially those forms that are not very popular or particularly well known. This feeling of insecurity often leads to a crisis of confidence, causing a paralysis in your creative output. The fear of failure then prevents you from pushing forward and you end up reverting back to the safe zone. You put out safer, more conventional work that you can virtually rely on to draw praise and adoration from your viewers and followers. Its a trap that a photographer can get caught up in, just putting out work that is more likely to gain followers than a different, not as popular style of photography. Work that if the photographer in question would admit, is unfulfilling but gets enough likes or favourites to massage the creative ego and leads them to keep working permanently in this safe zone.
This is not to take anything away from those who practice conventional photography. There is some amazing work from some amazing people that truly love what they do and are masterful in the way they create their work. It’s just that there’s a percentage of us out there who sometimes feel that we have to follow their methods and styles in order achieve a level of happiness or success, even if we know we are only fooling ourselves.
This is the trap that I’ve fallen into and I’m happy to admit that now. I’m also glad that I realised this and continued to push on with my more experimental work, leading me to where I am today. Now I feel that I’m creating the kind of work that is testing me, pushing my creativity and ultimately it’s scratching that photographical itch!
So now that I’ve got that out of my system and my therapy is complete, what is ICM and how does it work?
Intentional Camera Movement is essentially what the name suggests. It’s a method of photography where the photographer moves the camera in any, or a number of directions after pushing the shutter in order to introduce a creative blurring or streaking effect. This effect, when done well, is sometimes compared to a painterly, impressionist style effect. Without getting too technical for those of you who don’t fully understand the mechanics of a camera: to achieve this effect you have to slow the shutter speed down enough to allow the movement of the camera to have an effect on the photograph. This in itself will cause a number of problems with the exposure. So to get a photograph that is not completely blown out, or just a white image, a screw or clip on filter can be applied to the front of the lens so that the photographer can make even longer exposures and still retain some kind of an image. This technique can be used to photograph all kinds of subject from Macro, through to Landscape, which is my favourite kind of subject matter for ICM.
As a child I used to love drawing and painting as an art. I used to do it a lot but as I got older I stopped because I could never achieve what I set out to create. It was an incredibly frustrating experience. Since discovering ICM though, I’ve now managed to combine my love of photography and painting into a medium that helps me to achieve exactly what I want to do. Now I have that creative fire back that has been missing.
With this in mind, I know that some of you are not going to be particularly interested in this form of art. That’s ok, it’s cool and I have no problem with that. We each have different likes and styles. But hopefully this post has given you a little bit of an insight into the kind of internal struggle that we, as artists endure and hopefully given you a little insight into the technique that i’ve been exploring.
For those of you that are curious and want to know a little bit more, I’m going to start a series of blog posts that I can hopefully give you more of a background or insight into ICM. A look at the pioneers of the genre, the different styles of ICM, including single and multiple exposure, some of today’s ICM masters, and also share some of the methods that you can use in order to achieve better results on a more consistent basis.
Hopefully most of you will stay with me but I understand if it’s not for you. But for now, take care and have an awesome weekend!