Friday, November 14, 2008
thinking about photography
I've been thinking about photography a lot lately. I've also been taking lots of photos. Like these from my walk the other day. But back to the thinking... I've become quite passionate the past couple years, and especially the past couple months, about taking pictures. It really fills me with joy to capture a moment in time in a photograph. I like beauty, and I like being able to capture the beauty around me, whether it's my baby's face or a colorful leaf.
Photography has always seemed rather glamorous to me. I remember back in high school thinking that being a photojournalist would be my dream job. But for some reason it also seemed utterly impractical and was never something I really considered, although I was able to take one photojournalism class in college as an elective.
It wasn't until I started blogging that I really started getting into photography again. There was something about having a place to put my photos that made taking them much more fun. Also, the blogosphere is a never-ending fountain of inspiration. There are so many great photographers out there. And I really want to become one of them!
I've been quite happy with some of the photographs I've taken recently, but I always see where I can improve and am quite critical of myself. Also, I have pretty much no official training and am trying to figure things out on my own. When I see the work of some "professional" photographers who I know went to school for photography, I get all intimidated and feel like I'll never be that good.
My dream is to have a little photography business where I take photos of kids and families and maybe an engagement photo now and then. I have very little desire to do weddings--way too much pressure! And I would love to do some fine art photography too. How cool would it be to someday have an exhibit of my photos? So cool.
The other day I was feeling rather uninspired and overly critical of myself, when I read this from Ken Rockwell. He is a photographer/engineer who has a photography website and dishes out lots of good advice. He said:
Photography is only about seeing cool things and taking their pictures. Seeing is the hard part; taking of the picture is a trivial afterthought.
Too many hobbyists find it easier to skip trying to grasp the difficult and abstract seeing part, and instead jump ahead to worrying only about the easy and relatively insignificant technical part. Sadly, being a technical master still won't get you good pictures, but a kid with a QuickSnap [disposable camera] and a decent eye will.
If you can see, you'll get good shots... If you haven't (either consciously or unconsciously) mastered gesture, balance, humor, color, tone, impact, harmony, rhythm, positive and negative space and all the other real parts that form the fundamentals of every photograph, any good shots you get are pure luck. You'll get boring pictures no matter how much you spend on camera gear, so I'm always stressing learning to see.
This idea really boosted my confidence. Yes, I have a lot to learn. Yes, I have TONS of practicing to do. But I already am well on my way with the most important aspect of taking great pictures--I see! I get all those abstract things he's talking about. Of course I have lots of ways I can improve, but I do basically have a good eye. I'm really excited that as I practice more my eye will just get better! And I'm excited that by getting better at all the technical stuff, I'll be better able to capture what I see.
Plus, I always take comfort in the fact that for every great photographer there are also tons of crappy ones. And there are even crappy ones making money at it! So while I will never be the best, I think I've got some potential and I can only get better.
And if in the end, I never end up doing this professionally, at least I'll have the ability to capture my family and leave a visual record of our lives.