A Deeper Understanding…..

I seriously love how technology has changed photography!  Honestly, yes I love shooting film, but I also love digital.  I believe each has its place, just like slide film and color negative film each had its own place, same with all of the different types of black and white film not to mention the different chemicals you could use to develop your film and prints!  Back in the only film days, if you were shooting black and white you not only had to pick a film but you had to know what process you were going to use to develop that film.  Did you want more contrast, less grain, more of a monotone feel?  These were things you had to think about ahead of time.  I think a lot of this is lost on a lot of today’s digital photographers.

People tend to look at the back of the camera and just look for a decent exposure and if they are shooting RAW they think they can do anything with it in post production.  This isn’t always the case.  Once again, I am trying not to get too technical but some things need to be understood.  People need to understand the latitude of a negative vs. RAW.  I saw one photographer claim that his digital camera had 6 stops of latitude, which granted in theory they do.  The problem is that you might not like the quality you get if you like to really push the dynamic range of your exposures.  You tend to lose contrast and this dynamic range is only at its peak performance at its lowest ISO.  I personally do not like this because I don’t always want to shoot at 100 ISO, why?  ISO which has taken the place of ASA, is basically a sensitivity to light.  In certain situations I prefer a higher light sensitivity, which with digital will lose dynamic range, which means I have to understand exposure and my entire process of the image.  Make sense?

Basically what I am saying is that I need to have a vision in my head of what I want to shoot while I am shooting or even before I ever shoot.  I need to understand the capability of my camera or my film, whichever I am shooting.  Good enough is not good enough in today’s market.  I have been asked my post production method and “how I shoot” so many times over the past year.  Honestly, I have a slightly different method for every shoot because every shoot is different.

If you want to become a great photographer it takes more than technical knowledge, in fact you really don’t need to know all of the technical at all.  There are people who will spew tech talk for hours and know every bit of information about how a digital sensor reacts to light and blah blah blah blah.  This does not make anyone a good photographer.  If you wish to learn this stuff then go for it, but I suggest you learn from someone who truly knows their stuff!  Not just someone who thinks they do.  Like I say for everything else, if they have been doing this under 5 years they don’t know enough.  I don’t care what the learning curve is, I know people who are teaching workshops and have not been doing this for 5 years, honestly, they just think they know what they’re doing!

You need to understand you, your vision and how you want to shoot to become a good photographer.  This is why the best photo schools still teach film in the first course.  Photography is not about checking the back of your camera or reading a histogram.  It is about executing your vision.  It is about creating a print of how you saw something.  Be in charge of your own work and understand why you do what you do.  You don’t need to explain it to anyone else and you don’t need to fully understand why you do certain things.  As long as you like what you are doing and as long as you can repeat the process for yourself that is all that matters.

I could go on and on but I’ll stop here.  Just because most people are using digital technology does not mean that you cannot put soul into your work.  Make a connection with your own work and shoot what you like.  There is no one right way to create an image, if you like it and if you are proud of your work that is all that you really need to care about.  Like I always say, just be true to you.  Have a deeper understanding of what it is you want, not what others want or what others want to teach you.