Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Image taken yesterday in Balboa Park. I love the power of the off-camera flash when creating art. It's a vital tool and one every In Focus artist should master.

 For many people, the pictures they take don't quite live up the their own recollection of events or the feelings that surrounding them. They believe it to be an equipment issue. They are wrong. The answer they are seeking is a simple one — you can't shoot, what you can't see. We (as a species) can only concentrate on one thing at time, even though our interpretation of what's in front of us (how we feel about it) is based on many things: such as our memories, current sensory input and expectations. When we are inspired, the emotions felt stem from the many — yet we as traditional photographers can only focus on the one. If you want to grow as an artist, if you want better images — then you have to begin thinking about more than just subjects. You have to start expressing yourself, you have to share with the rest of the world how you feel about things. You have to focus on your own individuality, instead of just another subject. The truth for an In Focus artist is pretty simple: It's not about just shooting pretty pictures, it's about showing the world who you are as an artist. Make that your goal, make that a priority and then just see how much 'better' your images get!

It's starts, as everything does, with inspiration  (the real reason we pick up our camera). Something in front of you sparked a feeling, a desire. This 'thing' doesn't have to be tangible, mind you — you don't even have to touch it or even see it, yet it's there nonetheless. In Focus photographers attempt to zero-in on this feeling (the actual reason for shooting). They try to create an image that reflects this, foregoing what others 'see' and centering their attention on themselves and the emotions they are trying to express —to share. This is what makes us (as photographers) quite unique.

For most people though, the camera simply records things — a tool to record the objects in front of them. Sure they may be inspired as well, sure there are feelings present but instead of focusing on them they point their camera towards the 'things' that triggered it. They take a picture of their dog, their cat, their child, a new car, a new house, grandparents visiting, an animal in the backyard, a bird in the tree, their niece's birthday party and so on — without ever searching for meaning or expression an emotion. They see and shoot subjects, nothing more.

It's these same people that look for answers and search out ways of making their photos better. They see a problem, they know something is lacking in their photography — they just can't figure out what 'it' is. They quickly jump on the 'I-gotta-get-some-better-gear' bandwagon, thinking that the answer lies in the lens, camera or flash they use. They doctor-up, manipulate and change the images in computer programs trying, more than anything, to hide the fact that they really don't know what they are doing. Sure their images are 'pretty' but they still lack 'punch' and meaning. Something is missing.

We as In Focus photographers know the answer is heart. It's meaning. But this is information we've garnered through countless hours of training, through mistakes we allowed ourselves to make and through perseverance. Not everyone has this (or wants it).

Some seriously don't care. They are perfectly happy with simply recording life ... and that's fine. After all, artists will always need someone to sell their stuff to right? But there are plenty of people who are simply misguided. They believe the marketing lies and untruths. They really think more mega-pixels will make their bad photos better, not just bigger. The see the 'professionals' using certain camera's and lenses and buy those. They hear that this program is better than that program. They buy books, CD's, videos and even go to classes (hopefully good ones) all in hopes of getting better photos. Yet the answer, the real thing they are looking for, is right there in front of them. If you want a better photo ... then just have something better to say.

Next time you raise your camera, instead of just looking at a subject ... think about why you raised your camera in the first place. What is really there, what are you feeling? Then use what you've been taught. Create some mood, use that depth-of-field knowledge, change that white balance, contrast, saturation — think about what it is you want to say and just make it happen.

The best thing you can do as an artist-in-training is to realize that you are not just trying to shoot pretty pictures, you are trying to become an artist who can create anything he wants. Make that your goal and you will be quite shocked at far you will go.


1 comment:

  1. I applaud you my friend.

    your flower salutes you...literally


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