Intent, Situation, Subject

Sun, River, Grass: Don Valley Trail, July 2015. ©2015 David Roddis. Some rights reserved under Creative Commons.
Sun, River, Grass: Don Valley Trail, July 2015. ©2015 David Roddis. Some rights reserved under Creative Commons.

What’s a “good” photograph?  What is a “correct” photograph?  In fact, what is a photograph:  what are its defining characteristic(s)?  I think it’s important to think about these things and be at least working toward an answer, even as your answer evolves.

Is a photograph a straightforward depiction of reality, or does it evoke the sensations, the experience and the emotion of that moment? Is this a blurry pic or does it take you to a moment of summer sunshine, shimmering haze, magic, nostalgia and memory?  (Alright, so I’ve stacked the answer!)

It depends!  It depends on your intent and it depends on the situation and subject.

Intent is a key word for me and describes a condition of having an end in view.  The end can, in fact almost always will, change and grow as you create your art, but without some intent, how will you know whether you are proceeding successfully?

Your situation describes what is happening while you work.  It is sometimes created by your intent and sometimes it creates your intent… What I mean is:  If you are walking around with your Nikon and see an interesting or momentous event taking place, you may very well decide to deploy your camera to capture the scene.  You will want to help viewers of your images imagine what this experience was like; what happened.  You’ll be aiming for a realistic portrayal.  I doubt that you’ll be adding a lot of filters in post, or performing any alterations to the scene, because those activities would not convey the truth and “the truth” – whatever that means – is paramount here.

This is photojournalism, and some of the most haunting and harrowing images of the last century come under this rubric.  The images will inevitably have an emotional resonance, but that is a byproduct of your primary intent, not the primary intent itself.

On the other hand, if you are in your modest or elaborate studio photographing some wildflowers you picked from the sidewalk cracks and vacant lots during a walk, you will have arranged the studio to suit your methods;  in my case with a flash unit or even two, my glass table, my hunk of black velvet, etc.etc.  So your intent to photograph these subjects out  of their native habitat has determined your studio set-up and has already taken you into an imaginative creative space.

Are you going to photograph each plant by itself, on black, to create a botanical survey?  Or were you struck by the feistiness and indeed the beauty of these humble specimens, which leads you to want to evoke these qualities?  Each intent is equally valid and will determine which lens and what lighting you use, how you frame the subjects, and myriad other decisions not so conscious.

To be continued…

A moment of truth…

Dear fans and friends,

I’m making myself very vulnerable here, despite how dangerous it feels.

David Roddis,, "Nostalgic Deception #1 (snapdragons)" 2015.  Archival pigment print, various sizes.  Edition 1/100.  ©2015, David Roddis.
David Roddis,, “Nostalgic Deception #1 (snapdragons)” 2015. Archival pigment print, various sizes. Edition 1/100. ©2015, David Roddis.

The summer has been a trying time. In fact, this entire year so far has tested my willingness to continue despite all the odds. This years saw a painful process through which I’ve attempted to keep making the art I believe in. There has been much stasis and much static.

I kept going by giving up much that was precious to me. I created a new body of work which is based on foraged plants – because I didn’t have to buy them. It proved to me that much can be done with few resources.

Now I want to ask you a favor. Two, actually.

Go to and under “downloads”, you’ll find links to a beautiful screensaver and some images you can use for wallpaper (desktop backgrounds). The downloads are completely free.!downloads/cv7

Now, read on.

I have dedicated five years to producing a beautiful and I hope thoughtful and thought-provoking body of work. It’s been my goal to establish that my acquaintance was wrong when he told me, “Flowers aren’t an important enough subject”.

If my work has ever given you pleasure, made you think, or ended up on your desktop… (wink), consider the other links on that page that enable you to donate two or 5 bucks to my photographic practice.

There are many expenses such as paper for printing, ink, computer repairs (I’ve used the same one for six years)… the list goes on.

Any amount that you donate will go directly to those expenses. I know times are tight for everyone, so I don’t expect many of you will be able to do this. Let’s put it this way – if causes you hardship, please don’t! But if it’s just a cup of coffee to you – well, I will make sure your thoughtfulness is remembered, acknowledged and in some way rewarded. I give you my promise.

All the best and – onward…

David Roddis
September, 2015

To transcend

"Equinoctial: Goldenrod and her sisters", 2015. From "Foraged". ©2015, David Roddis.
“Equinoctial: Goldenrod and her sisters”, 2015. From “Foraged”. ©2015, David Roddis.



Summer is nearly over. Autumn around the corner. My foraging has turned into a body of work, and one that is closer to my heart than any other has been. Because IT found ME.

This year has been painful, yet I don’t think I see traces of it here.

“Equinoctial: Goldenrod and her sisters”, 2015. From “Foraged”. ©2015, David Roddis.

Series: Foraged

Foraged: Abandoned Hieroglyphics of the Survivors: Possible Interpretation (2015)
David Roddis, “Abandoned Hieroglyphics of the Survivors: Possible Interpretation (2015)”, from “Foraged”. ©2015, David Roddis.

Summer is at an end. I leave middle-age and enter the decade whose number can’t be ignored or dismissed or massaged into something else.

I look at myself in the mirror and see the stranger who has taken my place. He stares at me with eyes hard and dry as stone, saying, “Where did you go? What were you thinking? Who did you love better? Why did you abandon me?


“Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt, and cannot last…”

– Francis Bacon, The essays or counsels, civil and moral,
of Francis Ld. Verulam, Viscount St Albans

Introducing: Downloads

I’m now offering free downloads on (Florian).   These are designed to add some beauty to your desktop and to ensure that I’m never far from your thoughts…!

squareIcon“White Flowers” is a screensaver which I compiled from a selection of, you guessed it, white flowers from several of my collections.  If that wasn’t beautiful enough, I’ve accompanied them with two movements from Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony – which you can mute or even replace with a preferred playlist of your own (these options are given during set-up).  The screensaver, once installed (a very simple process), will activate after a certain period of computer inactivity – this depends of course on how you’ve configured this; and your computer awakens from its flowery, Beethoven-y dream with a mere touch of the mouse, or with the ESC key.  It also accommodates nicely to a two-monitor set up.

If you’re not the multimedia type, you can also download images to use as wallpaper for your desktop.

Two points

The screensaver is a program (executable) file, so on a Windows computer your download may prompt a scary warning from the system or any antivirus program you have.  I assure you that the presentation doesn’t contain any malicious code – it’s just a slideshow with music.  You can safely disregard these warnings.

If you decide that you’d like to express your appreciation, you can return to the screensaver page and donate $2 or $5 using the links provided. These donations are completely optional and are not required for any download.  Any funds you donate will go towards my costs of materials, inks, paper, entry fees for art shows, and other expenses such as online hosting and domains.

Here’s the link for the downloads page:!downloads/cv7