Counterintuition: An Outlier’s Photography

I was asked to contribute to “Kozu Essence” earlier in the year about what inspires me in my photography.  I haven’t had a chance to post it on my blog for those of you who visit my site or may not be connected to me via social media or otherwise, but this is what I wrote for your own considerations:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

When I first read this quote, it resonated within me as if I was Hamlet and the rest of the world was my Horatio. It became my way of flanking my faculties to try to take the path less traveled and pave it with creative and counterintuitive knowledge and pursuits to grow as a person, father, educator and artist.  This idea ignited a spark that will forever burn inside of me.

Counterintuition is more than a vogue word or concept of the day, it is a philosophy and an art of making uncommon sense.  It is the ability to see commas and exclamation marks where others see periods.  It is a paradoxical paradigm where you make connections, both visible and invisible, to strive for a personal originality and authenticity and to seek innovation in no matter what you like to do.  I think that this way of being has changed the world and it is something that inspires me to no end.  For me, it is a value and not a goal.

This observation is something I like to refer to when I teach my students in both the behavioural sciences and in photography as a means of cultivating self-inspiration, self-satisfaction and evolving with their passion.  It is not easy to go into your discomfort zone and explore new ways of expressing yourself to break new ground in the frontiers of art and science.  History and my own experience tell me that being the underdog and the outlier is its own reward.  Don’t just think outside the proverbial box, live it.


“Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls, Canada” © John Kosmopoulos

It is generally impossible to free yourself of certain conventions about finding the unique shot in far away travels as we all strive for it to a certain degree but what if we thought about the fact that we can stand where millions of people have stood, take a photograph that millions have taken, but make it completely our own.  “Uniqueness” now becomes a challenge to strive for a personal originality instead.  This idea is part of my own psychology of photography that I call “Vision Drawing / Oramagraphy“.  Our impulse as photographers is to try to defy physics and struggle to meet the demands of our faith to obtain the ultimate shot.  Although I used a different photograph for my original post, I am using photographs of the famous Niagara Falls to elucidate my point.  I have been to this spot many times since I was a child, but I always took it for granted.  I have seen hundreds of photos of the Horseshoe Falls and never took more than my camera for family shots.  One weekend changed all that for me.  I was still with my family but I decided to take all my LE gear and take only a few long exposure shots so I could enjoy family time.  The end result is what you see here.  The photo above of the Horseshoe Falls (Canadian side) is long exposure photograph using the Formatt Hitech IRND filters at 16 stops and converted to black and white .  The photo below is of the Bridal Falls (American side) as an infrared long exposure photograph using the Hoya 72 IR filter which was also converted to black and white.

Niagara Falls IIB - US2 - FINAL

“Bridal Falls, Niagara Falls, USA”  © John Kosmopoulos

Although there are black and white photographs of these iconic landmarks and some long exposures as well, I have never come across images like these in this way based on a Google and social media searches.  This is not to say these photos are one-of-a-kind (they are to me and may well be), but what satisfies me most is that they are based on my own vision as a photographer and they speak of my own personal originality and inspiration born of counterintuitive impulses.  Many photographers are swept up in the latest fad or movement in photography, but ultimately, you should do what you are passionate about no matter what that is.  We all start somewhere in our learning as photographers, but there is something so comforting in knowing that reinvention in our own photography is sometimes a turn to the left rather than a turn to the right in our exploration.

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