Magic of Photography

Posted on April 6, 2012


I have to ask, Where is the magic of photography today? As a photographer, there are several of us who meet and several who critique one another’s work. One thing that comes up is the equipment that we use. I am one of those few people in the industry that looks at a camera as a tool. The same applies for lighting equipment. They are tools. With all the advances in technology, most people think the technology used to create the image is the most important thing – bigger and more expensive is always better. I can’t say this. My experiences tell me differently.

I conceeded in one of the forums when discussing this that most people have one camera, and that if you only have one camera, you probably want it to be the best you can get. But, I also mentioned that those same individuals take pictures with other cameras than the primary one they use. They are everywhere: your phone, computer, kids toys, etc. You can also buy cheap cameras, too, like a Holga or even disposable cameras. Why? It will keep the gear from dictating what you do. Using the latest and greatest also makes you lazy as a photographer. I know I can’t be the only person who is constantly fighting to turn off all the automation and automatic things you find on cameras today. Using other pieces of equipment makes sure that you don’t get complacent and let the equipment rule you.

So what should rule when we take an image? Only one thing: your feeling and emotions. It is when you capture that feeling and emotion that you have captured the moment. This requires us as photographers to think about what we are doing. Do we? I don’t know. This is why I fight automation with digital cameras (and if you have ever worked with me, you have seen me fight it). How many people “spray and pray” for an image, and then spend hours in Photoshop making the image work? Not me. I never spray and pray. How about those of us that chimp? I know I do this to some extent once in a while, usually while figuring out exposure when I forgot my light meter. How many of you can use a flash on your camera without the ETTL functionality? Yes, it can be done. I do it all the time.

Why am I harping on the automation? What did it do? First, if you are a photographer, you should be striving to create you own images. Automation takes the creative decisions away from you as a photographer, and makes them based on who knows what (I am sure there is a good reason for the way your manufacturer programmed your camera). But, is it what you want to do to create that image? Does it know what you are thinking? The odds are against it. This is where the magic comes in with images. You see something and know exactly what it needs to be. Don’t second guess the black box that automation creates. Instead, do what you know is what you want and create that masterful image. Don’t hope on hitting it or just getting it right. Know that you CAN get it right.

This should get you as a photographer to start doing things a little differently and think a little differently. Start by trying to use other tools to capture images. Be it a small point and shoot, your camera, your tablet, or even a disposable camera. Just go out and use some other tools. Also, try to eliminate some of the automation that you have in your camera – each time you use it, you give up control to capture your images. Put the magic back in for your viewers.

All information and images are ©2012 Don Krajewski on this post.

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Posted in: Photography