Now resident in Spain and a photographer for Gibraltar and the Costa del sol for commercial, news,weddings and my picture library at http://www.the-picture-collection.eu. I am a self taught photographer and in return photography has taught me much about life and the world around me. From humble beginnings as a an amateur ( not that there is anything humble about being an amateur ! ) to covering major events for the international press. Photography has been my life and photography made that life so very interesting.
Next time you take out your camera wether it be a camera built into your phone, top of the line digital SLR or film camera, think about the world around you. Try a little test. First restrict the amount of pictures you take. Digital photography has led to many people taking hundreds of pictures only to whittle them down after many hours to a few.
Some professionals are just as guilty, indeed some so called professionals make a living out of photography this way. Auto everything and shoot hundreds of pictures. Its why some photographers are so expensive. All that time in front of a computer sorting out the rubbish has to be paid for ! Is not photography and certainly not art and does not bring satisfaction.
So to save time, relax, enjoy yourself and improve your photography. Imagine you have a roll of film with 36 exposures. Select a topic, gates, windows, people, trees whatever you fancy and try to restrict yourself to that subject. Though if Prince Charles rides past on a white horse wearing nothing but a long wig don’t miss it and get on to the Sun newspaper and negotiate your fee first !
Seriously if something beyond your topic looks excellent take the picture. Just try to stay on topic. Then give yourself a time limit. During your lunchtime from work an hour if your lucky. Or a Sunday stroll for 3 hours. Also try to remain within your immediate locality. In walking distance. You have now restricted yourself. Probably to an area that is very familiar to you.
However now try to see what you have not seen before. Above, below, both sides and don’t forget behind you. Practice seeing pictures behind you and imagine what the scene you have just passed will look like from that angle then turn and see if you were right. Notice light and shade on familiar places and objects. Patterns in the most overlooked obvious things sometimes reveal great pictures. More than that this method improves your ability to ‘see’ and improves your photography and experience of life.
Try really hard to relax and live life. See as you have never seen before. Clouds and trees can be breathtaking when you allow the beauty to come through to you. Only practice in interpreting those sights will bring results you are satisfied with. But it does not prevent you enjoying the experience. Restricting the amount of pictures you take will seriously improve your ability and your pleasure of the experience. Many contemporary forms of technology lead us to expect perfection and immediate satisfaction. We have been conditioned by advertising and business to rush, work and buy. In fact taking pleasure from trying to improve our abilities with a quality approach and thinking about what we are doing brings greater skills, satisfaction and appreciation. In short it makes you a happier person. Its good for you and so is the exercise.
When you download those pictures on to your Mac or PC. It will be paradoxically quicker than usual. Study all the pictures carefully before you edit and ask yourself why you took the picture. Did you miss a better angle ? Would the picture be better if you went back on a rainy day or at night ? When you have selected your favorites do a few basic improvements in contrast and saturation if needed. Again study the picture/s, will they stand without any more manipulation ? hopefully you will find a few pictures that are fine without too much alteration.
If you are good they will all be good pictures. That is what you are aiming for. Taking more time to enjoy the experience and improve your ability. That in turn brings peace, satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness. Just for taking a few photographs,
Much better than cheating by taking too many and manipulating the results. Some pictures and scenes cry out for manipulation and indeed it can be very creative and fun. That is however another story for later.
Enjoy your photography a and learn to enjoy your life more through the art of seeing. But photography has much, much more to offer. My next blog will go a little deeper into the psychology of photography and improving your imagination. After all it was Einstein that said imagination is the greater part of intelligence.
Kevin Fitzmaurice-Brown ©