Yesterday I sat down and wrote a rather lengthy reply to several questions left as a comment on a recent article about my work, only to have the entire missive disappear upon hitting the “Post Comment” button. At the time, I was a bit ticked off that the time had been seemingly wasted. But I was determined to come back to it, and upon further reflection, I have continued to muse over how I might answer. So the time was, in fact, not wasted, as it generated several thoughts, some of which follow.
Photography is a funny thing. Funny in that it seems so easy (just push the button already!), and yet so difficult to create “art,” whatever that is. Just last night I was looking at an image on Facebook of a local photo group I “monitor,” out of curiosity if nothing else, and there were several glowing comments about a landscape photo that, to my eye, looked about two stops underexposed.
I thought about posting a comment to that end, but decided against it, as I didn’t want to be the pro that rains on an amateur’s parade, nor did I want to be a photo snob…there are enough of those out there already. So I let it pass. Either the individuals in the group will learn…or not.
I once attended a week-long photo workshop of a rather crusty photo guru in Vermont. To say that he was opinionated would be an understatement…but I learned. He told us about the many letters he often received asking for photo advice. At some point, rather than spend copious amounts of time answering each letter individually, he had a rubber stamp made. It said simply…”Try It!” He would then send the letter back to the questioner.
Now I share this story not to rain on anyone's parade, or to belittle someone's curiosity. Rather, I would encourage everyone to “Try It!” I can reveal the answer’s, but many people probably won’t remember them, as most people (including me) learn best by “doing,” and by making mistakes along the way.
One other thing. Since I started down the road to become a “professional photographer,” I’ve come to realize that each photographer’s journey is uniquely their own. This was brought home to me when a very seasoned photographer I knew once said to me that “I’m happy to answer any questions you may have…but you have to ask.” At first I was a little put off by his comment, but later realized the absolute wisdom of this approach. I did ask him questions over time, and we became friends. We are still friends today…
The point is that photography, like many forms of artistic pursuit, must be learned individually, at one’s own pace, and digested photograph by photograph. It’s this cumulative form of learning that helps one grow, and over time, progress to whatever level is desired. One can stop along the way (and say to themselves “Enough”), or one can continually strive to improve. I suppose I’m the restless type, so I’m always looking for ways to improve my photographic skills…either in lighting, composition, processing after the fact, or being aware of backgrounds, foregrounds, playgrounds…etc. One thing I can tell you though…it’s not about “the stuff.”
I just read a wonderful blog post by a photographer heretofore unknown to me, Bridget Conn. To summarize (and photographers get this a lot), she was answering the hypothetical question about “How Big is Your Lens?” I would encourage you to Google it, as she beautifully explains that the question is about Context. One never asks a chef what kind of stove he/she uses…isn’t the end result the important thing?
I’m happy to answer any questions…but you have to ask. I can be reached at (404) 245-2411.