The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
Gato Amarillo
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 10 months ago

trale wrote:

Over the last couple months, I've been watching "The Grid" series of videos put out by photoshop guru Scott Kelby and his pals.

Perhaps you've spent too much time watching videos. More seriously, I'm not a fan of Kelby -- seems to me he's made a career of making things more complicated than they have to be, then setting himself up as the guru who can offer the key to the mystery.

I've learned a great deal from these videos, particularly from the critiques that they do, like this one . I've learned many of the ingredients of great (not just good) photo, elements like:

  • Good lighting
  • Good time of day
  • Interesting location
  • Interesting subject
  • Good composition
  • The right moment
  • Interesting perspective
  • Eliminating distractions
  • Good post processing

Those strike me as somewhat superficial -- rather the surface of things, not the core. What is important comes down to "Does anybody want to look at this picture? Will it mover them? Will they remember it?"

Several people have already mention a passion for your subject and work.

All the top photos on sites like 500px invariably demonstrate many (if not all) such elements. No doubt this will improve the output of my own photography in the future. But there seems to be a few drawbacks. For one, now when I revisit some of the photos I've taken in the past - photos that I was once very proud of, they now look mundane. I can pick them apart and describe all the things "wrong" with them. This is a humbling feeling.

This part about revisiting past photos is something all intelligent artists go through. Not all of our past work fails to hold up, but you have to expect a good bit of it will, at least work you did before you master the technical skills and find your real subject.

The other drawback is that I feel less inclined to take photos over-all. If you watch enough of The Grid, you get the sense that if you don't happen to be at an interesting locale, with an interesting subject, at just the right time of day (near sunrise / unset), you might as well not bother taking out your camera.

True, but it is up to you to define "interesting." You have three choices: You can find a subject that interests you within reach, you can find a way to travel or move to the locations that interest you, or you can give up photography and do something else.

Unless I'm willing to go to such lengths to do the necessary legwork to purposely situate myself in the right location at the right time, many of the shots I take on a normal basis is classified (as they call it) "snap-shots", even if I do have some of the other elements.

So what's wrong with snapshots? More seriously, you do have to put in the work. It's like sports or music or anything else -- how well you do it depends a lot on how much time and work you are willing to commit.

One thing they do emphasis over and over is that your gear (price of your camera) is NOT one of the crucial elements of a great photo. I suppose this is to encourage those with entry-level DSLRs and the like. That's fine, but when they suggest "you gotta go to the right spots" which invariably means travel costs, the cost of gear seems to pale in comparison.

Again, you get to define the "right spots." I would guess most photographer do most of their best work within a day's drive of their home -- though some of them move their home to be near their work. As far as the gear goes, so long as it is adequate to the job no one cares what it cost. Some areas of photography require spending the big bucks -- sports and wildlife come to mind. Other areas, such as landscape or portrait can be done with relatively simple equipment.

Your thoughts on this?

I think it's easy to overthink this stuff. We'd probably all be better off out making pictures.

Gato

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"We paint with our brain, not with our hands" -- Michelangelo
Portrait, figure and fantasy photography at Silver Mirage Gallery:
silvermirage.com

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