Saturday, June 27, 2015

5 Truths I Have Learned About Photography

Photography is an ongoing learning journey, there is so much to explore, so much to experience. Some lessons come easy, some are difficult to learn. I think it is extremely crucial to acknowledge that there is no one ultimate form for photography, consequently being open and subjective. I also believe that we all want to improve and get better in what we do, simply because we will be able to enjoy what we are doing if we are good at it. After all, what is the point of picking up the camera and do this thing called photography, if you are not able to have fun while doing it?




1) There is no bad camera nowadays

I honestly cannot think of a bad camera from any camera manufacturer these days. The discussions on what camera NOT to buy, or which camera to avoid are no longer relevant. Honestly, even the very basic entry level camera (DSLR or Mirrorless) can do extremely well in many shooting conditions, surpassing even the top of the line of cameras released 5 years ago, in terms of image quality as well as overall camera performance. I do not see any reason why anyone would be losing sleep over being not happy enough with what they have today. Yes, there will always be better, newer more powerful cameras out there, now and in the coming near future. Just because your camera is not better than others does not mean you won't be able to shoot good photographs. The most important step forward, is realizing that your camera is MORE than good enough for you. Do not worry about what your camera can or cannot do, start thinking about what you can do with your camera. The happier you are with your camera, the less you worry about what you do not have, the more you can move on and concentrate on what matters more: SHOOTING and creating photographs. Is that not what photography is about? 

2) Do not worry about how a good photograph should look. Shoot the photograph the way you truly want it to. 

I have observed many photographers trying so hard to follow their favourite photographer's footsteps, trying to emulate (or more crudely put, copying) his shooting style, composition, thinking process as well as post-processing techniques. It is not wrong to learn, or find out how other photographers work. However, do not come to a point that you throw away completely your own unique personalities in your photographs. I don't believe that photography is about following a set of rules or long list of guidelines to accomplish a certain finalized outcome. There are many reasons why photographers shoot pictures, and for the reason of art, it is universally agreed as an expression of creativity, an outlet for ideas, thoughts and emotions. In order for that to effectively take place, the photograph should contain traces of the creator's personalities, his own unique thought process, his own emotions and his message or ideas that he wants to speak through his work of art. Let your photographs speak of your beautiful uniqueness!

3) Growth is important. To grow, move out of comfort zone. 

In the beginning, everything is new, the cup is empty, as we learn more and more, and getting involved so deeply in photography, over the years, the cup is filled. When it is full, we become comfortable, and no longer accept new ideas, and form our own boundaries of what we should and should not do in photography. That is the most dangerous thing to happen to any photographers: getting stuck in the comfort zone and not being able to get out of it. Many people do not even realize this mistake, and when they are staying still, they no longer continue learning, and growth slows down. Kirk Tuck has once written a very good article, please have a read: "The Passion is In The Risk". He wrote and I quote "Beyond that, risk also means removing yourself from a comfortable situation to an uncomfortable situation that elicits responses in a photo which in turn make it interesting to you and your wider audience." To keep the passion burning, it is important to push ourselves and take necessary risks. The most successful photographers I know are never satisfied with their own work, and always seek to get better results. Their hunger for growth and improving their photography is insatiable. Being content and taking pride too soon simply means fall is following closely. 

4) Success is not measured by fame. Photography is personal

It is no secret that photography (for whatever intentions that it was created for) has evolved into an ego game. We constantly show off our photography work in hope that we will receive gratification and acknowledgement that we are doing the right things and shooting good photographs. We seek approval from our audience and we want our audience to "like" our photographs. Photography has become an online (in this Internet era) ego baiting war-zone. 

I don't think it is wrong sharing photographs with an audience, after all photography is a form of communication, and it demands to be seen and shared. Having an audience will help you to grow as well, and that inspiration and reason to go on, to do better the next time you go out and shoot. Nonetheless the shooting process should have never been about pleasing a crowd. Are you shooting for yourself, or are you shooting for someone else? (I am speaking of photography as a hobby, not profession. For professional photographers, you need to deliver to clients, that is an entirely different discussion altogether). 

Make photography personal. It is your own game, your own desire to pick up the camera to shoot what you want to shoot, and do what you want to do with your photography. Then, when you come home with the images you have for yourself, you share it out with your audience. Those who can identify with you, those who can relate to your work are your TRUE audience. 

5) The greatest investment in photography is time. 

What is the biggest sacrifice in photography? Not how much you spend in your gear. It is the time you have spent shooting and shooting and shooting endlessly. Dedication to the craft means you need to religiously (not the best word, but dedication is closely related to devotion) pick up your camera and discipline yourself to shoot as frequently as possible. You may have bought the "best camera" or attended dozens of workshops by famous, successful photographers, and read all the best published photography books, but if you do not spend time shooting, you won't go far. Now the question is, how much time can you spare for photography? 

Ok enough ranting, here comes fresh photographs from today's shutter therapy session:

Opposite ends

Waiting

Looking Up

Straight Lines

Shopping

Glass Walls

Signboards

The cat WINKED at me! I have photos of the cat with full two eyes open. 

Run

Wipe

Translation (Malay): Do Not Step, Slippery

Lunch

My current addiction

Make sure you spend time having shutter therapy!! Enjoy photography. 


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21 comments :

  1. When I saw the picture "Lunch" I almost dropped down from my chair.

    My Favorite is the Looking up.

    Thanks for Number 5 Robin.

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    1. Oh dear is that "lunch" that terrifying?

      Truth to be told those points also serve as reminder to myself. I need to practise number 5 too!

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  2. Agreed with all five of your points, Robin.

    Man, that lunch looks good ...

    Regards,
    Scott (Ipoh)

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    1. Hey Scott!
      Long time no see! Oh that lunch was gloriously delicious. Expensive, but totally worth it.

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    2. Yes, long time no see.

      My contract finishes end of September - I'll have to try to get down to KL for one of your "walkabouts" before then ...

      Good cheer,
      S

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  3. A Million Thanks for writing this article - really appreciate this! Hope to get more confidence and joy taking My Photos using My Camera!

    Cheers!
    Kyll
    Singapore.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks prison. Do not worry too much, just go out and shoot!

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  4. Wow Wow Wow Wow..... Just Amazing Photography....sharing it .

    Thanks
    R K Images

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  5. "Straight Lines" is a lot of fun when scrolling up and down.

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    Replies
    1. That was a simple, "straight"forward shot!

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  6. Love the honest writing and the photographs are the cherry on the top. So glad to have bumped into your blog

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rohit. Do stay around, I try my best to update as often as I can.

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