The word “filter” has many connotations, but within the medium of photography we usually think of just a couple. A filter is either something placed in front of a lens, or a Photoshop function. When photography is rendered as an art form however, the most important “filter” is the photographer themself.

I came across a quote reading an exhibit catalogue (yea, I’m a bit weird that way). The quote was by the painter Randal M. Durra (b. 1958, USA) – “When an artist filters the world through his heart and mind, he is closer to the truth and experience of nature” I love coming across great quotes that speak so clearly to something I have long felt but could not verbalize. And this quote really hit home, I think it is the reason I began photographing 30 years ago. Having to apply my own filter to the world allows me to see it and experience it in a way that only I can. But most importantly, it allows me to experience it in a way that I may have missed otherwise.

Mill Windows

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5 thoughts on “A Photographer’s Most Important Filter

  1. Very true Paul. I was actually thinking about the concept of filters a few weeks ago – not only for photography, but how we apply them to many aspects of our lives. We filter what we read, watch, our friends, how we spend our time. It all revolves around making choices that suit us personally.

    1. Mark, Ansel Adams spoke about that as well, how every image we make is a result partially of the books we’ve read, the people we love, etc. Our experiences are somewhat the result of our choices and our choices are somewhat the result of our experiences. The filtering can get complex.

  2. I like this photograph. I tend to have a filter that seems to gravitate toward windows when photographing. I feel there is a lot to see in or out of them. Great quote too. Reading exhibition catalogs can apparently pay off in multiple ways.

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