Tag Archives: art

Ignore The Pretentious Street Photography Critics

Street photography is a snapshot in time, and it captures the human condition as seen through a small rectangle frame. Because this is an artistic expression, street photography critics need to shed the pretentiousness, and instead embrace the artistic vision.

Because the field of view is artificially limited by the lens, the size of your camera’s sensor, and other factors, we are able to make sense of the chaos of the street. The photograph captured by a street photographer can reduce complexity to simple elements, allowing us to focus on the emotion and beauty of the street.

But not every street photograph needs to tell a story beyond the obvious, and not every street photograph needs to evoke an emotion. Yes, some of the best street images do both, but a good street photograph can simply capture the beauty that is a slice of life on the street, and it can serve as a record of how a city or town looked at the time the photo was taken.

So if you are an aspiring street photographer, don’t let the pretentious critics lead you astray, or deter you from your own artistic vision. Street photography is what you make it, and it is not defined by a rigid set of rules created by the self-important. So hit the streets, and capture the things that grab your eye, and ignore the pretentiousness.

Posted in Humans Being, Photography, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , |

Gear Lust: It Matters Not What’s In Your Hands, But What’s In Your Head

When you find yourself in the throes of a major case of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), you need to walk out of the store, or move your mouse cursor away from the Buy button. Next you need remind yourself that it is your imagination and creativity that most contributes to your passion, not the gear. What matters is not what’s in your hands, but what’s in your head.

I’m not saying you should never buy new gear, and in fact, I offer you a twist later in this article (more on that in a moment). What I’m saying is, don’t purchase gear with the belief that it will improve your work on the merits of the specifications alone. Think of all the iconic photographs from decades past, many of which are not superior on a technical level, even when they work exceptionally well on a compositional and emotional level. That new Nikon or Canon DSLR or that new zoom lens aren’t going to offer you any greater ability to tell a story with your photographs. The only thing that can do that is your imagination.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Slow down.
  • Don’t take a lot of photos, concentrate instead on what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Beyond the anchor or subject, pay attention to what is in the frame, especially at the edges.
  • Think about your composition and how different elements in the frame are flowing and interacting with each other.
  • Are you trying to tell a story with this shot, and will the composition offer a message to the viewer?

If you are overcome with the urge to buy a new piece of gear, instead look for inspiration by browsing the works of your favorite photographers, or better yet, discover new ones. And if that doesn’t quiet the desire for more hardware, pick up the gear you already own and go out and shoot! Because at the end of the day, taking more photos is how you improve your art, not buying new gear.

But if you still can’t resist that temptation, I offer this suggestion (here’s that twist I mentioned earlier): Head to eBay and get yourself a cheap film camera, like the 35mm Pentax K1000 that I just bought. But wait a second, I thought you said, “it’s not what’s in your hands, but what’s in your head.” — Yes, indeed I did, but I’m also realistic about gear lust. Sometimes you just need to buy something. But instead of the typical lens or camera body upgrade, take a hard left into uncharted territory and buy something you never thought you’d ever buy. For me, I never thought I’d go back to film. Hell, I never really shot much film in the first place. I think the last time I used a film camera I was in my teens in the early 1990s.

I want to reiterate that your imagination is the most important thing, but if gear is ever going to have any impact at all on the creative process, it’s likely to happen when you choose a piece of gear that really shakes things up, and makes you look at your craft in a different way. And in the case of old 35mm film cameras, it’s an inexpensive way to satisfy that hardware craving. Well, at least the gear is cheap. If you really get hooked, the film and developing costs could start to add up! Oh no, what have I done! 🙂

Posted in Camera Gear, Deep Thoughts, Photography, Tips, Techniques, Guides Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Take Your Light With You, For It Will Show You The Way

Wherever you go, you are always connected to where you

Wherever you go, you are always connected to where you’ve been.

Posted in Photo Blog, Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

26 Photography Guidelines To Build From

DO NOT read this list if you are looking for camera setting tips, or gear recommendations, or lighting techniques, or composition tricks. DO read this list if you are looking to formulate your own thought processes and mental framework to improve your art and your relationship with photography. I am not a professional photographer. I created this list for myself, that’s why its written in the first person, but I thought maybe it could be of use to others. Use it as a starting point for your own photographic guidelines, and maybe to create your own list.

Figurine sculpture sitting on a box, dangling legs.

Figurine sculpture sitting on a box, dangling legs.

26 PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDELINES

  1. I will miss every shot I don’t take.
  2. Today everyone is a photographer, so I’ll make it a goal to find my photographic voice, my unique take on the world, my personal visual style.
  3. Better gear does not make me a better photographer.
  4. Repeat guideline #3 at least 20 times before clicking that buy button.
  5. Always shoot raw.
  6. Purchase more storage space if necessary to facilitate #5.
  7. Always backup my photos, and in addition to a local backup, make sure I have at least one off-site (cloud) backup as well.
  8. When I’m searching for an interesting photographic subject, I must remember that some of the best photos in history are of the most commonplace, day-to-day subjects.
  9. If the shot is not working, get closer to the subject.
  10. If the shot is not working, get further away from the subject.
  11. If the shot is not working, walk around the subject and shoot it from a different angle.
  12. If the only camera I have with me is my smart phone, don’t stop looking for interesting things to shoot, and don’t hesitate to use the camera at my disposal.
  13. Spend less time browsing photography forums, blogs, and books, spend more time making art.
  14. But when the artistic muse is AWOL, recharge by searching for new inspiration by browsing photography forums, blogs, and books.
  15. Take less gear with me on photography outings.
  16. Follow #15, keeping in mind that some of the best photos were taken with a 35mm or 50mm fast prime lens.
  17. Be less timid, and more self-confident, particularly when shooting people. I must not be a voyeur. I either need to fade into the background for candids, or when that’s not possible, I must do the opposite and own it, and become an active part of the scene. Great photographers overcame their fear in service of finding the next great shot.
  18. Since everyone is a photographer, I need to find a different perspective. I need to get down low, because every shot I’ve taken in the past from a low angle has revealed a whole new world.
  19. I should only put my very best photos online. I must resist the temptation to increase quantity which ultimately serves to dilute quality.
  20. Before I click the shutter button, I must stop and take in the scene. There’s no prize for taking the most photographs.
  21. Building on #20, figure out the subject, the thing that anchors the entire scene, and then look for light and dark spaces that create flow and visual interest, and then look for lines that flow towards and away from the main subject.
  22. When working in the digital darkroom (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.) I need to walk away, come back later with a fresh pair of eyes, and see if I still like the changes I’ve made to a photo.
  23. Good photos can be taken anywhere. While going to a specific location to take photos is perfectly fine, I need to remember that good photos are all about light, lines and composition, and those things can be found (and framed) everywhere.
  24. A good photograph tells a story or it makes people wonder and use their imagination.
  25. I need to take more photos in the rain and/or when the ground is wet, particularly at night. The wet ground and reflections of light from buildings, cars, and street lights creates a magical canvas just waiting to be photographed.
  26. I need to refine and grow this list of personal guidelines.
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