Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You need to think about more than just tripping the shutter.

How many times do you come across an eye popping scene? I mean something that you really stop to look at and just stand there awestruck? You get out your camera, bring it up to your eye, and depress the shutter...Hey! that image is really lacking the impact of the scene here that I am staring at....

Your eyes see differently than a camera. They have a different field of view, and they react to the light differently, so you need to be more than just a shutter snapper. You need to be a PHOTOGRAPHER. One of the skills you need to exercise is being a translator. You need to translate the scene for the photograph. There are many other senses involved in what you see than just your eyes.

What you hear, what you feel, what you taste, and what you smell all go into the overall presentation of what you are seeing. "How is that possible?" you might be thinking. Bear with me here. I'm going to exaggerate for effect.

You are at the seaside, and witness a beautiful scene of some flowers on a dune. It's incredibly beautiful to you at the moment and worth capturing to your CCD or film. Wait. Think for a second. What else is making the scene so darn "scenic" to you? You smell the salt air.You feel the ocean breeze on your face. You feel the sand compressing under your feet. You hear some gulls squawking as they ride the breezes overhead.You taste the salt in the air. All of these things are contributing to how you feel about what you are seeing.

Now what you need to do is translate this feeling to your image. Have you ever wondered why some images that appear to have such great potential look so "sterile"? No feeling. No passion. No vision. No heart. They just don't stir anything inside of you. Lousy translation.

Your next question is "OK Mr. Smarty Pants, how do I do this "translation" thingy you are talking about?"

I'm not telling you. I'm not telling you because I can't tell you. I don't know what you are feeling and seeing and hearing at these moments of epiphany. Only you know that. It's your job to tell me.

You're the artist, so art.

You need to be more than just a mechanic.

32 comments:

Waterrose said...

There are many times my husband will say, "aren't you going to take a picture of this?" I tell him, "no," I can't capture it...it will have to be a memory. I have taken pictures and at that moment can't believe how beautiful it scene is, only to connect my camera, off-load the pics and think ...what happened? Thanks for the insight. Knowing that a "real" photographer validates how I feel sometimes makes me feel better.

Gallery Juana said...

I find it so hard to remember the mechanics part of taking a picture! But I know what you mean about it being more than just the numbers.

Caroline said...

It's for this reason that I roll my eyes at photographers who do nothing but brag about their equipment... I feel like they're missing the point.

UniqueNurseGranny said...

Really interesting.Like the philosophy.

Valerie said...

That is so TRUE! I often buy photography even more than paintings, as they resonate even more artistically with me then paintings. They have such a depth, an angle to them.

I know you photographers have a battle sometime explaining the artists process to others sometimes, but believe me there are some of us who so incredibly appreciate a truly artistic photographer.

spaz said...

love your work, love your ideas, and i appreciate your perspective.

Jennifer Otero said...

This kind of blog that is the reason that i have you as a favourite on my own blog.
You put into words what i think all the time.
Sometimes i think certain things we see are so beautiful that they should not be captured, you know?

Rosebud Collection said...

It is so true, each one of us sees something different..

High Desert Diva said...

Scott,
Like any great teacher, you are constantly encouraging the student (in this case us lowly blog readers) to do better....to dig in to that place inside our soul....and create something we thought was beyond our skill level.
This post helped clear up some misconceptions for me. The camera truly does see things differently. Now I have an inkling why...

Jennifer Juniper said...

So true! You've put many of my photography frustrations into words, another reason I love to read your blog.

blueboygifts said...

People dont realize how difficult it is to take a picture. Thanks for explaining that it is more than just point and shoot.
love your pictures.

SofiesC said...

I just love this blog, you have a very generous way of letting other people take part of your art. And you are a very talented artist. I'll bookmark this blog:)

SofiesC said...

I just love this blog, you have a very generous way of letting other people take part of your art. And you are a very talented artist. I'll bookmark this blog:)

Ophelia Miller Boutique said...

Your photography is awesome.

Joyce said...

love you blog! awesome awesome photos!! and i love all the tips!

Alex Whatton said...

Found you through Etsy and I will definitely check back! I love your photos! Do you have anything from Lake Sunapee?

Thanks!
Alex

Lynda Lehmann said...

Lovely work! I've just discovered your blog and would like to know if you want to link? :)

Mixed Species said...

Scott - we aren't even photographers and we are taking notes! Job well done.

-the Mixed Species guys-

KIM said...

You've touched on this topic before. Maybe not all in the same blog.
I think each situation requires a different method. If you have the time...take the time... you'll probably create a sensational image. But, sometimes you want to catch that kid or that lizard or that train wreck and you have to fire off the shutter without every sense tingling.
But, you are the professional and I do photography as a hobby.
Think this is the reason?
;)

Peter said...

I see what you mean...people often don't realise that ALL our senses are working hard when we are experiencing something. I remember the first time I went to the Grand Canyon...I took loads of photos but not one can recreate exactly how incredible that place is. You just have to be there to experience the size, the grandeur...and the amazing silence of it.

Peter

femputer said...

I love your blog. Your posts are informative and encouraging in the best way. :)

Garrity Photography said...

I am always learning to exercise more patience with my photography as time goes by thanks to you. There is so much out there that I see that I want to capture but when the time is right and I can stop and really focus, it is when my images come out so much better. So as I have always said, thank you for reminding me again of one of your most important lessons I have learned during the time I have met you, have patience, and the image will be so much more than you will ever expect:o)

Regina Williams said...

This is a great write Scott! Many times I come across a scene that I want to stop and get, but I don;t due to a busy hectic schedule. I use to stop and shoot really quick, I call them "Drive By Shootings" Just to get the picture. But when I would upload it to my computer it lacked what I remember seeing when I was there, it was different and definately lacked. So what your saying makes so much sense. I've quickly learned that if I'm in a rush to not even stop, I remember where it is and write it down as a place I want to return to shoot when I do have time. You now have a new fan I look forward to going back and reading your previous writes as well as your future posts!
;D

Jena Woodson said...

Thank you... this is so true - and I struggle with doing just this.
Happy Thanksgiving and May God Continue to bless your talent.
jena- 12th Frame Photography

Tahusa Towne said...

You know you're absolutely right. I went to a wedding over the weekend. I'm not happy with the photos I took. I thought I would be more creative. But got distracted by helping out, rather than photograph the things I wanted. Thanks for posting this, as it's a reminder for a lot of photographers.

Kudos dear friend...and Happy Thanksgiving....


Tosh

GLAM GIRL said...

love your blogs,,i have found it hard to do this but m working on it :)
thanks for your words

Susanne49 said...

True words, Scott, thanks for telling it.

Kitty said...

so very true... since photography is so 'realistic', it's a difficult medium for people to comprehend. To actually use a realistic medium as a form of expression is a step forward that many just can't take

I'm not sure I'm quite there yet. But there is something also within the medium that is so easily instinctual that is appealing on both ends - taking the picture and admiring it.

Great that you are writing such posts. I think these thoughts are lost to most amateur photographers

Grasshopper said...

AMEN! I remember when I first heard this bit of advice from you. I have sense then used out every time i am out in the field or at a wedding! Great words of advice!!!

Chuck Pefley said...

Wisdom and truth. All photographs are art. But not all are artful nor artistic. Sometimes a photograph is simply that; a record of something or someplace, and completely fulfills the purpose of that image. In truth there is always more than meets the eye, in everything and everyone. Untold and unspoken stories.

Jason St. Peter said...

Scott I guess a higher power drew me to this post. I recently linked to your blog in the Dgrin forums when I was trying to explain this exact point. YOu did a much better job! You have a lot of good info on your blog.

The message thread:
http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?p=1032689#post1032689

Tricia said...

You're good!!! I like you - you tell it like it is & GOD knows I couldn't say that to you to your face, but.. !

I see what you're saying though I've often thought the same thing - How do I get this picture to turn out the way I'm seeing & feeling it?!!

Thank you!