To be an artist

Digital photography has allowed more people the ability to take up a creative hobby that was once shrouded in the darkroom. One problem I see is that so many people consider themselves a photographer now; but how many of those people consider themselves an artist? I really think that there are three levels, the person who just takes pictures, the photographer, and the artist.

This post will focus on the artist. While there are no set qualifications for being an artist, I do feel that there certain attributes that help make up an artist; such as passion, vision, creativity, as well as following the rules and then knowing how to break those rules for new creativity,

One quality of an artist is their passion for their craft (see my previous post; Don’t forget the passion). An artist doesn’t just take a picture they put a small piece of their self into their art.  When you talk to an artist about their art you can hear the passion in their voice.

It takes more to be an artist then just the ability to take a photograph. An artist may have knowledge of some photography vocabulary words and rules. But the artist needs to know not only the words but the meaning of the words and how to make the concepts work to complete their vision. The idea of following these rules has long been taught in the art world and many of the great masters have known the rules and broken said rules to make master pieces that we harbor in museums and private collections.

Each artist has their own vision hence why we see so many different styles of art.  Seeing something you want to take of picture of is just the first step.  Knowing how to capture that object, scene, person, or idea is the next part.  Anyone can take a picture of a flower but can everyone tell a story about that flower while taking the picture.  Vision and creativity start working together at this point to create an idea not in words but in a picture for the eye.

As we all strive to become the Artist remember passion, creativity, vision, and rules create a work of art that we can make us happy and excited to share our work with others and help us become an ARTIST.

Re-establishing our purpose

Once again it is the start of a new year and just like every other January we are encouraged to make some new year’s resolutions. Because this is the time of year that we re-establish our goals, in other words we re-establish our purpose, we need to examine not only our personal goals but the goals we have for our businesses as well as this creative endeavor we like to do called photography.

Each year, some times more than once a year, I think it is important to re-establish our purpose as a photographer. Let’s start out by defining what a professional photographer is and the job description of a professional photographer. Simply put, a professional photographer is a photographer who charges money for their services; if you are charging people money you are telling them that you are a professional. As for the job description of a professional photographer; your job is to use a visual means to tell stories and preserve memories.

It is the photographs that tell a story that make the greatest impact. Recently I read an article (http://improvephotography.com/2241/what-the-people-in-your-portraits-are-dying-to-tell-you/) that re-established the importance of telling a story with our photographs. It has a similar experience like the one related in the article, a family member had gone to someone else and had some photos done of their infant child, once this family member got the photos they were sad because of how bad they were. The family member brought the photos to me wondering if I could fix them. I looked at the photos and yes they were bad and unfortunately there was nothing I could do to fix them, David deChemin said “Photoshop doesn’t have a revision filter that will make a poorly conceived and poorly executed photograph sparkle with vision. Lazy vision can’t be recovered in Photoshop. There is no Un-Suck filter” (David deChemin, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision, Page 62). David deChemin also said; “As a visual storyteller, you are responsible for everything within the frame. If it’s in the frame, it’s because you allowed it to be. If it’s missing, it’s because you chose to exclude it, or you neglected to include it…. The world within the frame is all that exists to the people who will one day look at your images…. To allow your images to communicate to the broadest audience possible, you need to be obsessively aware of what is within the frame” (David deChemin, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision, Pages 14 & 16). I feel that this sums up really sums up the job description of a professional photographer.

Now we move to re-establishing the purpose of your business. There are a lot of people who get into business without understanding the business side of things. In a photography business the photography aspect is only a very small part of your business. After starting my own photography business I have had to learn the hard way that it is tough to make it as an artist. Scott Robert Lim has pointed out that being a professional photographer is one of the hardest professions to succeed in; because for example look at how many doctors there are, how many lawyers, and then how many professional photographers?

To succeed in business and in life we need clear well defined and achievable goals. If our goals are not clearly defined then you will not be able to establish a path to achieve the goal. If our goals are not realistic then they are not achievable and your business will not go anywhere. Yes you still need to have goals that require work to achieve and once a goal is accomplished another goal must take its place. It is a cycle of steps working toward the goal of having a successful business. So at this time of renewal and goal setting we should be looking at our business goals and re-establishing the purpose of our business.

Which brings us to the last point; we need recommit ourselves to educating ourselves about photography.  I cannot stress this enough; if you are not learning then you are not improving. You can refer to my previous blog post on the “Importance of Education” (http://doublerrphotography.com/the-importance-of-education/). At this time of recommitting ourselves, we need to re-establish our desire to educate ourselves about our craft. As a photographer you are responsible for everything within the frame of your photograph; I think that the first part of the David deChemin quote stated above bears repeating; “As a visual storyteller, you are responsible for everything within the frame.” David deChemin further said, “As photographic storytellers, it is our job to ruthlessly exclude every element within the frame that is not part of the story. The results will be more powerful images” (David deChemin, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision, Pages 19 & 20).

It is important to remember that the people we photograph want the stories; they are coming to us because they want something other than the regular studio experience. People are coming to us because we are representing ourselves as professionals. It is also important to remember that “The key is information. The more you know the better” (David deChemin, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision, Page 155).

So at this time of re-establishing our purpose please; we need to consider our purpose as a photographer, the purpose of our business, and recommit ourselves to our photographic education. If we do what we can to remember our purpose throughout the upcoming year we can improve both ourselves and our photography. My goals for this year are to finish putting together a photography business startup package, rebuild my photography website to include all the features I feel an artist website should have, and improve my photography education by continuing to write these blog posts and to work on my own personal photography projects which will challenge my current skill set and help my perfect my photographic vision.

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With digital cameras and software getting better and better it seems that more and more people feel that their photos are getting better as well. One benefit of digital photography is the instant feedback. One drawback of digital photography is the instant feedback.

Feedback is a double edged sword; on the side it can make you a better artist, on the other side it can make you think that you are better then you really are and it all depends on where the feedback is coming from. We all want people to like our art but we also should always want to improve as an artist. Hear that someone like your art is a great confidence booster, but when you want to improve you need to seek out fellow artist who is, for lack of a better phrase, better then you and have them look at your work.

Digital photography has allowed a lot of people to starting taking photos without really learning about photography first. There are several concepts that I think a lot of the new photography generation don’t understand; some of those concepts are composition, lighting, balance, telling a story, and I don’t think some understand foreground, middle-ground and background or the need for each one.

One thing the digital age has produced is some really good software to process all those digital images. This great software has even created a digital artist and while our current software can do a lot of things there are several things that post-processing can’t do. Some of the things post-processing can’t do is; recompose an image and it can’t bring an out of focus image into focus. Current processing software cannot take a below average photo and turn it into a great photo, David deChemin said in his boos “Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision” (Page 62) “Photoshop doesn’t have a revision filter that will make a poorly conceived and poorly executed photograph sparkle with vision. Lazy vision can’t be recovered in Photoshop. There is no Un-Suck filter.”

What I am getting at is that in photography we all really need to educate ourselves about all the different aspects of photography, the photo gear, the software, what can and can’t be done with software, lighting, composition, what makes a good photo, and what makes a great photo. Do you know the difference between a snap shot and fine art? Do you know how to show depth in your photos, and no I am not talking about depth of field. Ansel Adams said “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” And Percy W. Harris said “Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase.”

The photographers dilemma

We live in a digital age; that means that cameras are getting better and better and more and more people are getting into photography. Digital photography is a double edged sword, on the one side good photographers are able to get better faster because they get almost instant feedback and the other side is that more people are able to pick up a good camera and get a properly exposed photograph.

Recently I have seen some interesting posts on Facebook; they talk about wanting to improve the photography situation in Utah, the state where I live. I am sure that there are people all over that would dearly love to improve the photography situation in their area; well I am now going to suggest a way to start that process.

We must first identify the problem. There are two sides to the photography dilemma that is currently plaguing the photography industry. The first side is the customer; today’s photography customer is bombarded on every side with images from photographers who don’t know what makes a quality photograph and because those same customers have access to the same gear the photographer is using why pay someone to do something they can do themselves and get the same result. The second side of the photography dilemma are the photographers; there are so many people in this industry that have taken upon themselves the title of photographer without really understanding what that title really means.  In this post we are going to examine the photographer side of the problem, in other words the bigger of the two sides.

Today’s photographers have access to the best gear and so many books and other materials that we are also bombarded with so many opinions on how to photograph everything we can image that it can be tough to find that needle in the hay stack actual good advice in the ever growing haystack. A lot of today’s photographers are just someone who might know more about their gear then their client, in other words a lot of today’s photographers are just some one who takes pictures.

Scott Robert Lim says “Good exposures are not enough to provide us a comfortable living. It is up to us to turn good exposures into ART. Good pictures = ART = Get Paid. What is art? Your unique Vision executed to perfection. If we want to create a masterpiece, we need to know how to use All the tools… Composition, posing & lighting. The bar has been raised.” To many people in the photography industry do not even have a bar set for themselves; they have no vision for their photography or their business. There are a lot of “photographers” who are uneducated about the fundamentals of photography; most do not know what a fine art photograph should look like. Most of today’s photographers have never, and probably will never, put their work in front of an editor; their version of a hard critique is someone telling them that they don’t like the photograph.

One problem I see with a lot of the people in the photography industry is that there work all looks the same; they are not doing enough or anything to help themselves stand out from the crowd. Today’s photography market is so saturated with photographers that we must be doing something to set ourselves apart from everyone else. One thing that can set one photographer apart from another is each photographer’s unique vision. I see photographers post photos to social media with the caption that the photo is a “soft edit” or they post about letting the client not only pick which photos to edit but what is done to the photos as well (see my post about the how and why of critiquing).

As a photographer you are being hired for your vision and for your finished product, not for the clients editing style (see my post on standards and vision). A lot of today’s photographers have not honed their craft; they don’t know the difference between a snap shot and fine art, they don’t know how to articulate what they like about a photo and what they don’t like. This means that many of today’s photographers are part of the problem and not the solution and most of these photographers will never admit that they are part of the problem because how can you teach someone about something that they think they already understand.

Another part of the photography problem is that so many photographers cannot separate the photography and the business. You must be able to separate the photographer and the business man (see my post on business 101).  We live in a fast paced world where we can get feedback and information almost instantly. This fast pace has had a negative effect on the photography industry. To really improve both ourselves and the photography situation we need to slow down. We need to slow down and take an objective look at ourselves and our photography and see if you are part of the problem and yes this can only be done when we slow down. It is only when we slowdown that we can really see and analyze are own processes and make sure that we are making the correct decision.

The way to improve the photography situation in any area is to slowdown examine the problem and acknowledge that the photographers in your area are a large part of that problem. It is only then that you can take steps to correct the photography dilemma; but be aware that a large part of the photographers in your area are never going to admit that they are part of the problem. If we each focus on the one part of the photography industry that we can change; “ourselves.” We might then be able to have an influence on other parts of the photography industry, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

Questions, Questions, and Questions

During my time as a photographer there have been certain questions that have been asked by a large amount of people. This is going to be my take on some of those questions. The first question is what is the best lens for portraits?

The best lens for portraiture; is the lens that is attached to your camera. I am still using the kit lens that came with my camera. Taking a good portrait is all about how you use the gear you not what gear you are using. Because I focus on lighting, posing, and the story or emotion I am trying to convey with the image; I get better images. If you are focused on what get the image was taken with you are missing the point. All the experts agree that art should invoke an emotion when viewed yet I have meet several people who call themselves photographers that are more concerned with the gear they have over the quality and story of their images.

The next question is about lighting; are small speedlights better then studio lighting and what modifiers should I use? The answer to this question is simple; the best lighting equipment for you is the lighting equipment you can afford.  The best light modifiers are the modifiers you can afford. The best advice on lighting equipment is to get the gear you can afford and then learn and master the light. I use speedlights with shoot through umbrellas and sometimes gels on the speedlights.

I use speedlights because they are portable, easy to set up, and they can be used both indoor and outdoor. I use a shoot through umbrella because after watching Scott Robert Lim on CreativeLive I have learned just how much can be done with a small flash and a shoot through umbrella. Scott Robert Lim said that a compact flash is “like having a sunset in your pocket.”

To turn a picture into a work of art you don’t need the latest gear; you need a vision, your own style, and whole lot of practice. Percy W. Harris once said that “Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase.” I could not agree more, I once thought that I needed more gear to get better photos but I have learned that if I don’t know how to use the equipment I have just changing the gear is not going to help. Learn to use the gear you have, education yourself about photography; things like lighting, posing, composition. My photography became so much better when I focused on and learned how to maximize the gear I have.

Advice for the beginner and everyone else too.

Photography is a hobby that has become more and more accessible and more people are getting into it. Today’s technology has made photography gear more plentiful than ever before. With computers, phones and tablets and constant access to the network people are able to share their photos with an ever growing audience. It is easier to find examples of every type of photograph; everything from very bad to holy cow that is amazing. In my view there are three main challenges that face budding photographers; those challenges are the amount of gear that is available, the number of photographic styles to choose from and the amount of photographs that have already been done, and the always mounting fear that no one will like your photographic work.

The first concern a budding photographer has is for the gear; not the cost of the photographic gear but the amount of equipment that there is to choose from. A person can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars on equipment. Yes there is a lot of photographic gear on the market and it can be very intimidating because everyone has an opinion on which brands and model styles are the best of each item. When you are deciding which photography gear to purchase there are two main things you should remember; first your budget and second as Percy W. Harris says “Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase.”

The first thing is your budget; get the gear you can afford. You do not have to have the latest and greatest gear to make the best pictures. You don’t have to have ten different lenses for every situation you might find yourself. You don’t have to have enough flashes to make midnight as bright as noon day. I have been a serious photographer for five years now, I started out with a Nikon d5100, an 18-55mm lens, a 55-300mm lens and one inexpensive flash. I am still using a Nikon d5100, an 18-55mm lens, a 55-300mm lens and one inexpensive flash; I have only recently acquired a second inexpensive flash. I don’t have the budget to upgrade my equipment and I don’t have the need to upgrade my gear yet. I get better photos with the gear I have then a lot of people that have more expensive and a lot more gear then I do.

On the Fence

I took this photo with a point and shoot camera. I feel that one reason I get better shots with my gear then some people get with more expensive gear is because of two things; the first is that I have invested in my photography education and the second is I have focused on learning how to use the gear I already have. By learning to use the equipment I have and by educating myself on the photography fundamentals I have learned that I don’t need high dollar equipment to get high end pictures.  I have been able to get two of my photos published with the gear I have.

The second concern I think budding photographers have is that when they see all the photos that are out there they may feel that they have to have a completely original idea. Well photography has been around a long time and I am here to tell you that it has all been photographed.   But has it been photographed by you? There is a barn in my area that has been photographed by a lot of people and I thought it has been done, I need something new. Then I stopped myself and thought “Yes it has been done by a lot of people, but I don’t have a photo of it. It has not been done by me.” It is not necessary to have a completely original idea, in the business world R&D which stands for Research & Development but in the photography world to me R&D stands for Rip-off & Duplicate. It is Ok to get inspiration from another photographers work. I have done shots that were inspired by some of Ansel Adams work; I have one that was inspired by a photo from Peter Lik. The fear that everything has already been done can stop a lot of budding photographers, the question becomes will it stop you?

The third concern I think a lot of budding photographers have is whether or not anyone will like their work. A friend of mine once told me that of all the people that view your work there will be 1% of those people who will like it and of that 1% there will be 1% that will pay money for your work. If most of the people who view your work are not going to like it, does that mean it is a bad photograph? Of course not; there is only one person that really has to like your work and that is you. I can sum up this third fear budding photographers have in one sentence; if you are not passionate about your photography no one else is going to be either. Your passion, or lack thereof, will show through in your photographs. So don’t worry that no one else is going to like your shot; take it anyway.

I have seen a lot of articles online asking what the best lens or other piece of gear is for a type of photography, the answer to this question is the piece of gear that you can afford. Remember I am still using my kit lenses and a couple of inexpensive flashes and I have photos published in a magazine. What makes a great photo is not the gear that was used to create the image but the composition, the lighting, and the subject matter.

Everything has been photographed; all the ideas are taken; who cares shoot it anyway. Figure out what your style is and take the shot with your flare and yes there are going to be a lot of people who are not going to like your photograph; so what. The only person who has to like your work is you, however; if you focus on the fundamentals and on executing your craft at the highest level you can than have a greater chance of people liking your photograph.

The biggest piece of advice I can give to any budding photographer is to learn about your craft. Educate yourself about photography and what makes a good photo. The best photographers are always learning and trying to improve. If you get nothing else out of this remember these two things; don’t kill your dreams… EXECUTE them and the biggest room in this world, is the room for improvement.

Don’t forget the passion

In today’s digital world where there are so many people calling themselves photographers it can be hard to tell the professionals from the rest. When I see most peoples’ photography work online and other places one problem I see is that everyone’s work seems to look the same; it seems to me that a lot of people are trying to copy everyone else. While being inspired by the work of other photographers is a good thing we want to put our own style on what we are doing.

One thing I think that a lot of these copycat photographers are missing is the passion. When a chef creates food that they are passionate about, you can taste the passion in the final produce. When a photographer has passion for the art they are creating you can really tell that in the final piece.

For me passion is one thing that separates the photographer from those people who are just taking pictures. A passionate photographer spends time learning and perfecting their craft. It is the passion the drives the photographer to create their art. It is the passion that fuels the photographers mind into not only coming up with ideas but also how to transform those ideas into a finished work of art.

Having passion for something is not the only ingredient to making a piece of art, but I feel that it is one of the biggest. If you are not passionate about your art then no one else will be either. An Anonymous author once said; “Anyone can take a picture…a person with a passion sees the picture before it’s taken.” I would add that the person with passion doesn’t set out to create a work of art; the work of art is the end result when the artist was concerned with the expression of an idea.  Remember in the end it is the passion that separates the photographers from the ones who are just taking pictures.

Know the difference between fine art and a snap shot photo and be able to explain why.

The more I learn about photography the more I am seeing a trend, I have meet a lot of people who have taken on the title of photographer and yet a lot of these people do not know the difference between a fine art photograph and a snapshot. These same people are able to say that they like or dis-like a particular photograph; however, they are not able to say what it is about the photo that they like or dis-like. It is not enough that you like or dis-like any photograph, as a photographer we should be able to tell ourselves and others why the photograph works for us or why it doesn’t work for us.

One day I heard someone remark that the hardest thing to teach a potential photographer is the difference between a snapshot and fine art. I have found this to be truer than I would like to admit. Now this is all according to me, so take it as you will, but if you are going around calling yourself a photographer and you cannot articulate why a photo works or why it doesn’t then you really need to step back and take a reality check.

Yes, the hardest thing to teach a photographer is the difference between fine art and a snapshot; particularly if that photographer already thinks they are producing fine art. I have meet photographers that have a business and charging their clients professional prices and yet they are producing snapshots. If you are marketing yourself as a professional photographer and you don’t know the difference between a snapshot and fine art then you really need to step back and reevaluate the work you are giving your clients.

This brings up the question; just what is the difference between a snapshot and a fine art photograph? Dictionary.com defines a snapshot as “an informal photograph, especially one taken by a hand-held camera” and (in hunting terms) “a quick shot taken without deliberate aim.” (snapshots. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved March 22, 2014, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/snapshots). As a photographer, shouldn’t your aim be to produce the best product you can. A lot of people define a snapshot as a photograph that is taken quickly and without regard for things like lighting, composition, and subject matter. However; I have seen a lot of photographers put in a lot of work to create snapshots. A snapshot is just a visual record of what is in front of the lens; there is no skill involved,

One of the main differences between a fine art photograph and a snapshot is that the fine art photograph contains artistic elements that depend on the skill of the photographer. Today’s cameras have automatic functions and software that make it easier to get a correct exposure but these automatic functions do not help with the artistic elements that go into making a fine art image. There are so many photographers out there that claim they are fine art photographers and yet they don’t know what makes a photograph a fine art piece. A fine art photographer is able to compositionally justify everything within the frame of the photograph.

A fine art photographer can look at the photograph and not only say if they like it or not but they are able to say what it is about the photo that they like or don’t like. A fine art photographer doesn’t photograph everything they see; they slow down and go through their pre-shoot questions before they ever press the shutter button. When you slow things down a bit, will you miss some photos? Sure you will. Does it make you a bad photographer if you slow down? No, when you start anything you must start slow and learn the fundamentals and build your mental processes. Until you are really able to identify what makes a fine art photograph you will never be a fine art photographer.

Recently I had an experience with my daughter; she showed me the importance of having an opinion and view that is well articulated about artistic things.  The other day I purchased a new neck tie and the first time I wore it my four year old daughter looked at me and said “Daddy that looks good on you, you look good.” As you would expect this was an ego boost for me.  A few days later I was wearing the neck tie once again and once again my four year old daughter says to me that she really likes the neck tie, so I asked her what she liked about it. My daughters answer to the question of what she liked about my neck tie shocked me; she said that she liked the colors and the circles, and that it looked like a stain glass window.  In essence she was able to articulate what it was about the design and colors that she liked. When a four year old can look at something artistic and tell me what she liked about it and I know adult photographers who cannot do that.

In closing remember a photographer who is not learning is a photographer that is not improving and therefore is a photographer that is producing snapshots and not fine art. As well too many photographers spent a lot of money on gear and not enough on their photography education, when you get education you will be better prepared to not only use the gear you already have but make smarter gear choices in the future.

Rejection

We have all heard something similar to the saying; “Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.” As an artist you are looking to create that piece that captivates all who view it; that piece that everyone wants hanging on their wall. In the world today there is no shortage of people calling themselves an artist; however, I feel that there is more to being an artist then the ability to take a photograph.

I am sure that we have all heard something like “As artists we suffer for our art”, and in a lot of ways we really do suffer for our art. There are many challenges that artists face; one of those challenges is the large amount of rejection that an artists faces. Rejection is a big part of an artist’s life; I have a friend that once told me that of all the people who view your work you may have 1% of those people who like your art and of that 1% there might be 1% that are willing to buy your piece of art. We all deal with rejection; but as an artist rejection can sometimes be harder because in a lot of ways your art is a part of you.  So the rejection can be harder because it can seem like people are rejecting you personally and all the work you put into that piece.

Let’s be honest; no matter how thick your skin is, rejection still hurts. When you do get rejected it is important to remind yourself that a lot of what people say is their own opinion. It is also important to remember why we create art, it is also important to remember that if you aren’t passionate about your art no one else will be. Rejections do mount up, particularly in the early years of your career as an artist. In a weird way rejections are a good thing; it means that you are putting your work out there and that people are looking at your work.

Rejection is a large part of the life of an artist and as an artist we all need to find a way to turn that negative into a driving force to push us into creating more art.  We should always be trying harder to improve and become better; not just for the sake of people liking our art but for ourselves in trying to continually improving our talent as an artist.

The How, What, and Why of Photography

It is the start of a New Year, and with it comes the time when a lot of people set New Year’s resolutions. A lot of photographers are setting the resolution to improve their photographic skills; however, one important resolution that I don’t think many photographers are going to make is to commit themselves to learning more about their craft. It is only when we commit ourselves to learning all we can about our chosen craft that we can really hope to continually improve in the execution of that craft.

It is only with education that us as photographers can find and refine our photographic vision. David deChemin wrote; in his book Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision, “Vision is the beginning and end of photography. It’s the thing that moves you to pick up the camera, and it determines what you look at and what you see when you so. It determines how you shoot and why. Without vision, the photographer perishes.”(David deChemin, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision, Page 2)

One thing that I feel that a lot of photographers need to commit themselves to learning is what I call the real exposure triangles. I am sure that we are all aware of what is known as the exposure triangle.

Exposure Triangle-1 copy

This is what everyone knows as the exposure triangle; however, I believe that this only tells part of the story. What we should be learning about is what I call the real exposure triangles.

Exposure Triangle-2 copy

This bigger real exposure triangles is the “how, what, and why” of photography, in other words the “how, what, and why” is how you stay true to your photographic vision. Anyone can teach you how to take a photograph, but not everyone can teach you the “what and the why” of photography.

David deChemin also said that “Vision is everything, and the photographic journey is about discovering your vision, allowing it to evolve, change, and find expression through your camera…”

The larger real exposure triangles helps us find, refine, and stay true to our vision.

To stay true to our photographic vision we have to ask ourselves what we are photographing; landscapes, nightscapes, portraits, etc. Once we identify what we are photographing; because different techniques are used for each, then we need to identify why we are photographing this scene. What is it about this scene that moves you; in other words what is it about this scene that sparks an emotion in you. It is only once you identify the “what and why” of what you are photographing that you can really know how you are going to combine the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed of your camera to capture the scene before you in a way that shows the emotions that you are feeling at that moment. In other words; you have to know the “what and the why” to really understand and know just how to take that photograph.

The exposure triangle; ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, is only the how of photography. Now we don’t have to understand the technical side of things, as in how the camera does what it does, but we must understand how the aperture, the ISO, and the shutter speed are going to affect the look of the final image. The goal is to have the end product be as close to our initial vision as possible and I feel that with the real exposure triangles we have the greatest chance of accomplishing that goal.

We cannot rely on post processing to fix the photos that either don’t match or don’t include the vision we had for the photo before we took it.

David deChemin further states “A role exists for both the camera and the digital darkroom in the creation of a digital photograph. The camera does certain things well, and where it does those things better than the digital darkroom, it should be allowed to do that task. Where post-production does a task better than the camera, it should be allowed to do that. The right tools for the right job. When that understanding gets inverted, photography becomes less a process about serving your vision and more an exercise in salvage techniques…. Photoshop doesn’t have a revision filter that will make a poorly conceived and poorly executed photograph sparkle with vision. Lazy vision can’t be recovered in Photoshop. There is no Un-Suck filter.”(David deChemin, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision, Page 62)

The more you get it right in camera the less editing you have to do to realize your vision for that photograph.

We must have a vision of where our business is going, a vision of where our photography is going, and a vision of each photo we take. My advice for this new year is to slow down and to figure out your photographic vision by using the real exposure triangles and figuring out the “what and the why” of each shot you take. It is only after we know the “what and why” that we can truly know how to take that photo. It is only when we combine the “what, why,” and how that the results will be more powerful and inspirational images.