Revisiting Photography from Another Modern Perspective
I don’t disagree about the idea that when it comes to Photography, a photographer, amateur or professional, must not entangle himself or herself with the rules and latest gadgets to produce better photographs, but to tell me that I DON’T NEED them and I just need to connect, deeply and authentically to the story I am trying to tell is what makes it a different story.
Oftentimes, our thoughts for a certain topic are not fully expressed with just few sentences. More paragraphs are needed to support every idea; that is why I am making this post.
It is NOT as Easy as Counting 1, 2, 3
This is a true story.
Three years ago, I was in-charged to do portrait photography as part of a beauty products promotion, but refused to do it and I informed the organizer that I have no idea on how to take good portraits especially on a studio setting. I had only basic skills on product photography, besides, we only had a low-grade camera and two beauty dishes with 60W bulbs, which we were using for tabletop product photography.
However, the organizer insisted that I can do it because I had been shooting products. By that words, I accepted the task thinking that it was as simple as spoken.
Since the promotion is for the beauty products, everyone expected that photos could justify that the products we were promoting could enhance their beauty. In fact, that was the story I was trying to tell.
The set date came. I started shooting the subjects as if I am shooting my friends in a park, taking shots as many as I could.
I tried too shoot the subjects from different angles, as free as I was. I have no much idea how a model should pose; I have no idea about how to set up light to make their fat face look sexy. I only knew few of those things which I supposed to learn before having such battle.
Most of customers were asking me how should they pose and what else do they need to do while were having the shooting but I can’t address their needs. Some of the customers who were there, suggested to this and do that. It was a funny photo shooting session actually. But, I know that the photos were not good as everyone expected.
Most customers murmured about the service we provided.
One of the customers who have little experience about modeling, with indifferent attitude, came. It was her turn for the shooting. After the shooting, she wanted to view the photos and I let her see them. She she spoke no words. When here friend called her on her cell phone, I heard her saying that out of hundreds of photos they took, no one was good.
It was embarrassing, but it was true.
I had the heart to make them glamorous in the picture. That was my desire. That was the story I was trying to tell, but I failed.
Now, tell me that what I actually needed was just to connect, deeply and authentically with the story I wanted to tell.
It’s Other People Who Read the Real Story
Sometimes the story that a photographer wants to deliver is different from the real story that viewers get.
This is another true story.
I was assigned to make a brochure of a crystal and glass items. The message that we want to convey was that our crystal and glass items are branded and of high quality.
I asked my workmate, who was also a photography beginner, to shoot the products. She said, “I can manage this, I am an Artist.” She spent many hours arranging the items and shooting them as creative as she could using AUTO camera setting. She added some ribbons, flowers and beads beside the products. She shoot them from different angle.
As I was observing, I saw her that sometimes she had to pause and stare at the crystals, rearrange them then shoot over. The shooting was done and the photos are ready to used for the brochure design.
After the design was finished, our boss was not satisfied with photos on the design and he ordered us to re-shoot the item because the crystal looks like white plastic. Those photos were best ones [I thought] out of the tenths that was forwarded to me by my workmate.
Now, tell me that the problem with my workmate is her lack of deep and authentic connection with the story she wanted to tell and not the lack technical skills.
Gears and Knowledge Affect Quality
Let me show you sample of my photos. These photos are not those photos I am referring on the story above. These are photos of branded glass products taken on different times with different camera model, different accessories and different setting.
This first photo was taken in 2008. White cotton clothe as background. One beauty dish and fluorescent lamps as source of light. Olympus E-300 is the camera. Manual setting plus very basic technical skills and no understanding about composition.
This second photo was taken in 2010. With graduated background and clear glass table as base. More lights under the table I learned from a tutorial on how to set up lights for crystal and glass products. Canon 50D is the camera. Manual setting plus better technical skills and more understanding about composition .
These two pictures are my own work. I spent more than two hours on each of them just to make sure that they can deliver the message that I wanted to tell. But without bias, you cannot argue that the second photo looks branded and has better quality than the other.
Snapshot vs. Photograph
Yes, we have to love our own work. That is a very good mantra. But, don’t say that we don’t need the things that are actually important.
Yes, we have to be unique. That would set us apart from the competition. But, don’t forget the basics because they serve as strong foundation.
Yes, we have to release our creativity. That is the portal to producing stunning photos. But, don’t forget that Photography is more about Science than Art; Art because picture may give different meaning to different people, and Science of manipulating light, which involves many principles. You can only produce good photographs if you understand how THEY WORK TOGETHER IN ONE SYSTEM.
Yes, we have to produce photos with story. That will give life to our images. But, we have to understand the difference between snapshots and photographs.
A breathtaking snapshot is jackpot.
A breathtaking photograph is success.
Making a story out of an image is different from making the story an image.
I too have hundreds of pictures that are very memorable for me. I keep them. They have wonderful stories, touching and lasting. The snapshots of unforgettable moments. They have very great impact for me, for my family and for my friends but I can’t show them to you as my work of Art.
Always remember that a great story is has great impact to many, not only to few individuals, not only to you as photographer.
If you’re only doing photography for fun, to capture and document important events in your life or just capturing something to share to your Facebook friends, you may forget about technicalities, composition and new gadgets, but if you want to produce a photograph that will rock the world and will give you reasonable income, redirect your mind from forgetting about the things that have been told to be essential.
The Importance of Latest Photography Tools and Technology
In the world of digital photography where the new generation of better photographers – with high-end gears, in-depth technical understanding and have an eye on details – are mushrooming, the competition is very high. If you hold on “just shoot” principle, I don’t think that you can make it on the top.
I too is still in the process learning the Art of Photography. I am convinced that I am creative and I have sense of art [by the virtue of no choice ^_^]. But, they are not enough basis to produce great photograph. I need the right tools. I need the right technologies. I need the the ideas of professionals; I need their techniques. When I put their ideas into action, I discover something new. I learn. When I twist their technique, I discover something new. I learn.
Why do photographers need the latest and greatest gears? Because there are many amazing stories that mediocre gadgets cannot capture.
- There are many wonderful moments that mediocre cameras miss.
- There are many awe-inspiring expression that mediocre and bare lenses don’t see.
- There are many breathtaking scene in the dark that mediocre flashes can’t reach.
If you want to be successful in Photography in your chosen field specialization and you want to make it as your profession, acquire the necessary and appropriate tools and technologies, never forget the basic, study the composition, aim to have an in-depth technical understanding and to all them, add your passion and innate visual art talent.
Aim high and hit your target. So do I.
Thank you for reading. Godspeed!