My photography is a very personal thing for me. I love every aspect of it from the geeky technical nature that appeals to the engineer in me to the artistic side which appeals to the,well, artist in me. I'm obsessed by it. It's a lot like truly being in love, it's often the last thing I think about before sleep and the first thing I think about upon waking.
It's an overused word, but photography truly is my passion.
In this blog post I'll share with you what I've learnt along the way in no particular order.
I'm better than I think I am but not as good as I think I am
This is probably the part that drives me on the most. When I send someone my photos, post them on-line or simply show them to friends or family, I'm often in a low grade state of anxiety. I don't take photos for anyone else (unless of course I've been given a brief by someone and I'm expected to deliver but I'm talking about my personal work in this post) and I'm my own biggest critic.
It's always a huge relief when I get good comments, or if one of my photos gets re-tweeted a few times or I sell a print. I'm reminded at that point that my work is good. That people enjoy looking at my photo's and if I get a “wow” then that's just music to my ears.
On the flip side of that, if one of my photo's get a bad reception or even worse a “meh” reaction, well that hurts. It stings. I question myself as a photographer and I've been known to sulk like a spoilt child. After I've gotten over myself, I look at the photo with a critical eye and bear in mind the comments I've received on it. I study it to see where I went wrong. I examine the settings I had my camera on and vow not to make the same mistakes again.
This process is crucial in my opinion. If all I ever got was praise for my photographs I'd never grow as a person, photographer and artist.
There's nothing new under the sun but it doesn't mean you can't be different.
I recently posted this photo to Twitter.
I really like it and I'm quite proud of it. What happened then was that my other photographer friends started sharing their shots of the same subject. Each photo was completely different in terms of composition, shooting styles and processing. It was a really enjoyable conversation and I loved looking at my friends photos.
It got me thinking though and it's shaped the way I've been taking photos since then. Just because there's been many shots of the same subject it doesn't mean you have to shoot it like everyone else does.It all comes down to the individuals eye at the time the shutter opens. It's one of the great things about photography, it highlights the individuality of the photographer.
This photo is another example of this. I could have taken this as a picturesque shot of one of Hayling island many lovely little beach huts and it would have been a good photo. But that wasn't the image I had in mind when I saw it. My mind went straight to "dramatic in black and white" and I think it makes for a better photo.
Gear is everything but nothing
What is a camera? Strip away the fancy electronics, Auto-focus systems, wifi connectivity and all the other gadgets that make up a modern DSLR and what do you have? A box that collects light. It doesn't matter if that light is then imprinted on a sensor or film. That's how I think of my camera.
A box that collects light.
When I realised this, I stopped thinking about the camera and lens but more about the composition, the light, the image. I started putting more thought into each shot. I began studying the rules of composition rather than obsessing over ISO levels of the next camera being released. I'd look a photos taken by the greats of photography like http://www.anseladams.com/, Vivian maier, Henri cartier-bresson et al and also those of contemporary photographers that I respect.
Saying that, your camera is important! I don't baby my camera, but I clean it after every shoot. I make sure my lenses are dust free and my filters don't have any finger prints or smudges on them. My tripod gets rinsed off of any sand or salt water if I've been shooting seascapes or mud if needed. I clean my LCD screen. I make sure my batteries are charged and my memory cards are cleared.
I don't do this because I like doing it, I do this because it's makes it easier to get better photographs the next time I'm shooting. Also if I look after my gear, it'll last longer. Just like a mechanic cleans his tools at the end of the day, I clean my camera.
Photography means everything to me, more than I thought it ever would, and anything I can do to get better, to become the best photographer I can possibly be – I'll do it.