Last entry, I addressed capture and presentation from the perspective of the perception of the viewer and that both need to be accomplished inconspicuously or the viewer may be distracted. Digging a little deeper into this question, as well as what goes into making a photograph, brings me to the last and most important part - the photographer's perspective, or point of view.
This was a burning question when I first got into photography - what is point of view and how do I figure it out? It was not the right way to ask the question because photography being a visual language, point of view is not something that can be fabricated or concocted, it cannot be made or constructed. It is organic to the photographer. It needs be cultivated, and like a garden, it takes time and careful work to bring forth fruit. A better way to ask that question would have been "what do I do to cultivate it, and how long will it take me to see fruit of that work?"
In the previous entry, I concluded that the best amount of me in the frame is as little as possible. My photography should not be conspicuous in the capture nor in the presentation. If too much of the photography is noticed, the viewer is reminded that they are viewing a photograph which detracts from the experience (unless that was the intention).
The photographer's perspective or point of view is separate from these. While I want to completely disappear in capture and presentation (technical), I want to fully communicate my perspective of the happening (artful). So I want the photograph to be 0% me and 100% me at the same time. This appears to be a paradox, but it is not. It basically means that all technical aspects of the act of photography must be completely transparent so that my perspective comes across without distraction.
If I used the word "style," that would be an oversimplification, although many have looked to establish a point of view through style. That is a tough place to be because style is without substance and I think that substance is what will give photographs longevity and durability. Point of view is very nebulous, as every photographer is going to look for different aspects and exert different forces during capture to present the frame as they see it, so it isn't something that can distilled into a process.
All of these need to be developed in equal measure. Capture skills have to be honed so that the camera and lens never get in the way, they must be an extension of the hand and eye and all must move as one, anticipatory and sometimes reflexive. Presentation must be developed and matured - fascinations with settings in post processing and printing are a distraction from good content - the manipulations must be subtle and unnoticeable. These both can be exceptional, but if there is no photographer's perspective, the frames will have no value, regardless of the nuance of the technical skill.
The first two are easily learned - its simply the transfer of technical know-how. There are many classes, videos, etc that teach the basics of using a camera and file processing. That doesn't mean that it isn't a lot of work and time to earn proficiency, it still is, but those are skills that anyone can master and be on a common ground with others.
Point of view, on the other hand, cannot be taught. It can be coached, mentored, practiced, critiqued, but it is hard work as well and time consuming. Point of view isn't learned through a building block approach such as the technicals, it is learning by practice and self reflection. Most of point of view is going to come from life experience so learning to connect life experience in a subconscious way to the act of photography will at the very least set a photographer in the right direction.
It is hard work. I'm starting to see it emerge from what I am doing, but I am also finding that it is dynamic, always changing and shifting. Not necessarily a lot, but it is always changing. I've just started my fifth year shooting, and I feel it is showing itself. It has taken me this long to make the camera disappear. I am also still learning much about presentation, so that is narrowing down as well. And yet, they are all connected and inform the other - if I learn something in discovering my point of view, that is likely to influence how I capture and present.