in the mood





“People say ‘Hofmann has different styles’. I have not. I have different moods; I am not two days the same man.”   ~ Hans Hofmann

I was planning to post this earlier but I was fighting a cold that left me with very little motivation. Thankfully it has since gone away and I’m finally getting some energy back.

Before the holidays, I was going through some of my photos when I began to see a pattern. Seems my mood has a lot to do with what I photograph, how I photograph and how I choose to edit an image. With all the violence and chaos in the world, I found myself seeking subjects that portrayed a softer, quieter and more subtle side of life.  Once the holidays arrived (and I stopped watching the news), my photos took on a whole different look and feel.

This little revelation had me wondering if anyone else experienced that with their own work. So I put the question out to my photographer friends on Facebook and a very interesting discussion ensued.  When photographing for yourself (disregarding client work, of course) does your mood affect your photography in any way?

Many people felt that it did in all aspects, some just in the editing phase.  Others said that just the opportunity to pick up their camera and get out to shoot immediately improved their mood and therefore they were always in a happy mood when photographing.

One friend described a process he goes through prior to shooting,  Before I shoot, I sit down and I go deep down myself, into a place where I am in touch with all my feelings. If I cannot feel an image that I am about to shoot, I believe no one will.”  How interesting!

But then there’s a whole other philosophy out there that was brought to my attention by a photographer friend from Amsterdam.  He sent me this interesting article written by Garry Winograd –  10 Things Garry Winograd Can Teach You

“In my opinion it’s about an attitude towards photography. Winogrand wants to get rid of any kind of private mood in the result (the picture). That’s why he waited so long to develop his films and see his contact sheets. So you can say, he was truly aware about that mood. I like that attitude. In other words: In a photo, I don’t want to see you love your cat, I want to see the cat.”

Thought provoking for sure.


So tell me, what are your thoughts?  Would be interesting to hear from artists who work in other genres as well.

“… yes I speak a different language – the dark fire of poetry – it flutters and gutters in tune with the mood.”   ~ John Geddes

“I had to resign myself, many years ago, that I’m not too articulate when it comes to explaining how I feel about things. But my music does it for me, it really does.”  ~ David Bowie


To thank all my photo friends who took part in this little chat, I am going to be adding links to their various websites and portfolios on my posts during the month of February (sharing the love!) To list them all at once would be a bit overwhelming.

Hope you will pay them a visit. Enjoy!

Staci Lee Kennelly – A Life Developing

Lisa Epp – A Year of Days

Elizabeth Thomas – Photography of Cape Cod

42 thoughts on “in the mood

  1. Hi Susan, I’m glad your feeling better. I remember some time ago you had this on fb.
    Oh my mood plays a huge part in how I photograph and also how I edit. But mostly going out and capturing, my mood is often like the weather, now that we r in the grey days I find myself gravatating towards places like the cemetery . Especially since I just got back from Florida where there’s so much color, color to me and photoging is a happy place. Anyway, it’s another grey day here, and I’m rambling 😉

    Beautiful photos as always, you Re always an inspiration

  2. wonderful post. And I have to say, your work takes me to the places of familiar and wonderful things in my own life. I love your point of view, and I think it is one that resonates with many people. I photograph as a kind of therapy. I’m not sure if the results of my work tell any kind of story, or reflect my moods, but the process of shooting and editing and then having a place to share it with a community of photographers is important and healing for me. Keep up the wonderful work. I’ve enjoyed it so much!

    1. Thank you so much. I share your thoughts on photography as a form of therapy and I’m thankful for such a wonderful, supportive community…and for “meeting” you and the opportunity to see your beautiful work!

  3. Susan, to me your photos are peaceful, warm and comforting. The exact opposite of the violence of the world. You have done what you set out to do in a fabulous way!

  4. I think my mood most of the time influences what subject or content my eye is drawn to. This is stronger when I’m in a sad or bad mood… I’m not always aware of that when I’m out there shooting; sometimes the meaning reveals itself later, when I’m watching the shots in the computer. The special shots come to me in a sudden focus; a single shot, taken in an exciting moment. Still unconscious, but I know it’s something ‘important’. At home it get’s it’s meaning; they show parts of ‘who I am’… Funny thing is that those special, personal shots always get a lot of replies and ‘likes’ on my blog. Maybe the outside world is a symbolic mirror that shows parts of ‘your self’ when you’re open for it and/or in the right mood…

    1. I can so relate to your comment. Like you, I feel my photography is a form of self expression, maybe not all but most of the time. As far as those special images of yours that get a lot of replies and likes, it kind of reinforces my friends comment -“If I cannot feel an image that I am about to shoot, I believe no one will.” I’m sure people can identify with the mood and emotion you display in your wonderful images.

  5. Your images always seem to have a peaceful, restful feeling to them. That’s the way I perceive them at the least. I think my photography tends to reflect what goes on in my personal life more than anything. Lately life has been far too busy with changing houses and a new love in my life. There hasn’t been the sort of impromptu trip to the beach when the sky looks promising. Then again, I can look forward to living closer to a far better coastline once the renovation is complete (what’s been mostly keeping me so busy.) Hopefully I’ll be back in ‘business’ once we actually settle at what we’ve taken to calling the “Creek House” one of these days!

  6. It is an intersting question for sure. You made me think about it and the truth for me is, I have to feel the photograph, not just shoot it. I think I understand this more since taking photo;s of my Grandsons…it not just to shoot them, it hopefully to convey a feeling about them and what they are doing. This thought process has carried over into my nature photography as well now. I find I’m much more in-tune to my subject.

    As always Susan, your photos are calming, soothing and very lovely.

    1. I agree and for me, I love a photo that evokes a feeling, one that needs no lengthy somehow “get it” visually. Your images do that, I can easily see the love you have for your grandchildren in the photos you take of them…and your love for nature as well. Thank you, Cheryl xo

  7. I don’t think my mood influences my pictures but as we keep saying over at FOL, playing with our cameras is our therapy. So if my mood is ‘off’, a bit of photography therapy almost always puts me back on the right side of the day.

    Also, I love your idea of a rolling blog hop!

  8. Really interesting question, Susan, and one I had to give some thought to.
    I am quite sure that my mood does not dictate what I photograph, however, for the most part, I photograph what I photograph because of the feeling the scene, person, thing, etc. invokes in me.

    I found this line above, really interesting: “In a photo, I don’t want to see you love your cat, I want to see the cat.”

    As for me…I want to see you love your cat!!

    As always, these photographs are just beautiful, Susan.

    1. Interesting to get another perspective, Lisa. You are from the “Garry Winograd” school of thought 🙂 There are times when my mood does not dictate, especially when photographing street scenes or people. In those cases I prefer to capture the feeling of the particular scene or person. Thank you, you know I love your photos, you have always been such an inspiration to me. I remain a big fan of your work!

  9. Such beautiful photographs to show your moods. How interesting that when you stop watching the news so much, your photography changed. I can really believe that. Your text is so interesting to read. As for moods, I seem to be attracted to the mood of the things I see around me, especially when there is a play of light and shadows.

  10. Happy you are feeling better, Susan. I love the soft images here. And I belong to those whose mood immediately improves when I get out to shoot in the nature.

  11. A wonderful topic to explore. I sort of agree with the friend who says that the act of picking up the camera and walking out the door spins the mood up automatically. I think I’m too much of a novice for my photos to reflect anything more than what I was hoping to accomplish. I feel lucky when they do that!

    1. I certainly wouldn’t call you a novice judging by your wonderful work. I believe that photography, like many other forms of art, can be such a mood lifter..the best kind of therapy. 🙂

  12. I’ve been waiting to see what you would do with the thoughts and comments from fellow photographers. I’ll look forward to checking out the links you’ve shared here. And oh yes, your images are delicate and comforting

  13. I find that I’m affected much more by my personal life in terms of photography than the world view, sorry to say. Perhaps it’s because of my age, or not. I do find that since I’ve begun (for the first time ever) doing a 365 project, I’m much more aware of *what* I’m photographing. That’s because I already know what I plan to do with the photos at the completion of a year.
    PS: I did leave at note at Flickr, but wanted to let you know I love that beautiful monochrome of your son and his violin. Since I can’t leave a message there, i really wanted you to know it’s such a touching photo. Love it.

    1. Thank you, Diane. That violin image has a special place in my heart :). Your photos always reflect your personal life so beautifully and always tell a wonderful story. The world view is not the only thing that can affect one’s mood, that’s for sure.

  14. I have visited this post half a dozen times now.. each time promising I myself I was going to comment, and then not finding the words to go with your beautiful images and words. I have always strongly believed in the power of mood and images. I have been fighting mine for a few weeks now, and I think that is why my images are not feeling as genuine as I like them too. Maybe the best is to be truthful and create art exactly how you feel.
    Thank you for this beautiful post Susan. xx

  15. I’m not sure mood has much to do with me but curiosity seems to take me to the strangest places without much in the way of pre-thought and, when I get there, I can’t imagine a better place in the world to be.

    What I super love about the whole process is the phenomena of different views we take with our cameras.

    1. Street photography is a different “animal” altogether and you always end up in the most interesting places, Patti. You are so good at capturing the mood of the moment and the people. And yes, so good to see a variety of different views!

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