I often get asked how I produce the results that I do, “has it something to do with the camera I use or is there a special filter in the post processing phase that adds the last touch?” The answer is quite simple, Practice is the holy word. Not only are you training your eyes & other senses but you become confident over time, knowing what to look for, how to master a challenge & being out often raises the chance of shooting something special. Things are always happening, you just have to be present & ready to capture the moment.
Have you ever noticed how little time people have these days to concentrate on one thing for more than 5 seconds? One of the negative aspects of the High-Tech world we live in I take it. With the constant flow of information through hundreds of different TV programmes, radio stations & of course through social media & internet. Hardly anyone buys a “real” book these days as they load it as an Ebook from Itunes onto the iPad or iPhone. I wonder if any of these Ebooks get read through so many other things that one has as distraction. I bet that the last “real” book that you bought was delivered from an online order from Amazon. There was a time when if you wanted to book a table in a restaurant that you used the phone to do so, today its almost obligatory to send a mail or SMS. When was the last time you were in a music store to buy a “CD” or even a “DVD”?
This constant need to be informed, to be on top of everything and have an answer to all possible questions be it the weather prognose 5 days in advance in Wisconsin or who’s making the biggest minus on the stock exchange in Tokyo & so on. The problem is that 99% of this information gets overwritten with the next wave of information on the following day & so we are all just skipping through a jungle of data that most of us just can’t filter into important or rubbish.
The same is unfortunately true for pictures, nobody shows a genuine interest for a good picture anymore because the world is just saturated with good pictures. I notice this often, I observe how people use the Internet. There are of course more than enough internet junkies out there but also the average user spends little more than 5 minutes on one particular website as the search goes on with numerous links that send the viewer from one side of the data autobahn to the other. I am no exception, I hardly notice sometimes that I have left the original site I was viewing & have landed somewhere totally different. Time just flies by, your life just flies by watching what other people are doing as you yourself vegetate in front of your computer.
Looking at pictures from others is easier than motivating yourself to take your own. Unfortunately for many people photography starts & ends with spending the money buying the equipment. The only way to get good at anything whether it be football, driving, singing, making pictures or generally anything is through practice even if you have got talent.
“Looking at pictures from others is easier than motivating yourself to take your own. Unfortunately for many people photography starts & ends with spending the money buying the equipment.”
It is sometimes nauseating to hear how amateurs that have just bought their first DSLR discuss how and what their camera can do although an idea how to approach a photographic problem from a creative angle never gets discussed because naively they think that this is also solved with a particular menu function. If I say this then I just get laughed at. Then I get to hear something like, “Yes of course, a good photo is dependent on the good eye of a photographer” but then they continue with phrases like, “But what use is a good image if it is overexposed, grainy or blurry?” These are of course mistakes that everybody makes but after taking 10,000+ pictures this sort of thing shouldn’t happen very often anyway.
Of course these days I tend to view this sort of technical mumbo jumbo with a certain amount of humour, especially when I see what a lot of these so called professional amateurs produce. After the first 100-200 crap shots the enthusiasm starts to ebb and then the search goes on in Internet for “Tutorials” how to “Take photos like a professional” or “Three easy steps to better landscapes” or “A masterclass in portrait photography”. ROFL, the only thing basically that they are doing wrong is spending too much time orientating to results that others have produced rather than doing their own thing. The worst thing of course is that many give up and place that Holy Grail back in its expensive camera bag and disappears from sight into a cupboard until their next holiday.
Many have asked me for tips on which camera/lens combination they should buy although they know already what they are actually going to purchase because they have spent numerous sleepless nights scouring the Internet to find the perfect kit for the perfect price for those perfect photos. Rarely though do I get asked about techniques I use in the field actually taking photos. Questions about clothing, navigation, transportation, places or light never occur. The one question I am still waiting to be asked is: “What is the secret to taking a good photo?”. My answer is quite simple:
“Practice, practice, practice”