For years I got caught up in the technical side of photography – collecting new gear all the time thinking it would improve my photography…. and it didn’t. I took some good shots with the new gear, and things like lighting allowed me to do things I wouldn’t otherwise do. But as a whole the new gear didn’t improve my photography. I was missing the Why of photography.
At this point reading this my wife will be laughing because my love of the latest technology hasn’t changed. I still want the latest and the best. There is always a new gadget waiting round the corner to catch me unawares.
Lately my photography has improved, and it hasn’t been by technology. It has been what is going on in my head.
Refining My Vision
A few months ago I won a years free membership to The Arcanum, which has transformed my outlook. The idea behind The Arcanum, set up by Trey Ratcliffe, is that an apprentice puts in an application, and gets chosen by a mentor. I was chosen by the fantastic mentor Janice Sullivan, in a cohort with about 20 other apprentices. This really is a life changing experience for a photographer. Yes I have been challenged on my technical skills, but what I have really been challenged on is my vision. What is my vision, my story behind the photo. Why did I choose that angle, that perspective, that item. What am I trying to convey to the viewer. In short, the why of photography, not the how.
This attitude also spills over into post processing. Give ten photographers the same file to edit and you will end up with ten different photographs, based on their vision. What do they want to convey by the way they process the photograph.
As a result I now take less photographs. I used to be a bit of a happy snapper, but now I try and put thought and creativity into my shot before I pick up the camera. I spend time editing and think about every detail. It might now take hours to post process an image where it used to take ten minutes, but it is worth it when you have a piece of art in front of you that you had a vision of at the start.
So if you are a photographer, or if you any other sort of artist – stop. Relax and take a look around, and reflect on what you want to achieve before you pick up whatever it is you use to create your art. And the most important – enjoy it!