It says so right on this site, but if you don’t know photography is one of my hobbies. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t been doing nearly enough of it recently, even electing not to take my camera away with me camping and to lakes some weekends this summer, but a trip to Gimli last weekend where I had it out got the juices flowing again.
The first thing that I have learned from photography is that since most people own a camera and take pictures, if they like a shot you’ve taken they tend to compliment your equipment. I’m nowhere near being a professional and likely never will be, but statements like, “Your camera takes good pictures,” is still like a punch in the kidney for me. I can only imagine what pros want to do when they hear it.
I think that’s it a bit of human nature to assume that external factors (i.e. equipment) are responsible for one person’s work being better than ours. Complimenting the camera of a photographer is in lines of complimenting Roger Federer’s tennis racquet or Tiger Woods’ clubs. Not that I think that I’m the Roger or Tiger of photography, but you get the point. No one is winning as much as they have just because of superior equipment.
In fact, one of my favourite photos wasn’t taken by me, on a point and shoot set to auto. It’s of my brother on top of Machu Picchu and it’s stunning. The location is great, the conditions ideal, the subject willing and focus well balanced. Nothing to do with the equipment. Either the person who took it had some skill, the stars aligned or I don’t know what I’m talking about, but the pic is awesome.
If I have any skill with a camera I would think it is thanks to preparation. I read photography books, look at others’ work and read blogs. I take the time to think about what I like and learn how to best utilize the tools I have available (not just set my camera to auto and hope for the best).
I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a great “quick tips” handbook about shooting in different conditions. If I have the time, I like to pull it out and read about what to look out for and get a baseline suggestion for settings, then tweak from there. Like I said, it’s a hobby, so I’m not worried about looking super cool in front of others by knowing everything there is to know about the medium. I also want to learn as much as I can with the limited practice I get, so I would much rather start off on the right track then fumble down the wrong road.
The number one lesson photography has taught me is to always look at things from a different angle. I think a story from when I had my camera out this past weekend is a perfect example:
We took a walk down the pier in Gimli and I was taking my time, snapping my pictures. Once we reached the end my mind was starting to wander a bit and I wasn’t looking forward to the boring walk back, as I had already seen and captured images from this location. What I realized, though, is I couldn’t be more wrong, because from the new perspective of walking back there were a great number of things that I missed and was excited to focus on.
There’s some sort of deeper philosophical conclusion to that story about how that’s how we should live our everyday lives, but I’ll let you come up with it on your own. My soapbox hasn’t grown to such heights that I’m going to bore you with that.
So the long and short of it is I’m glad I pulled out my camera again after a bit of a hiatus. Every time I use it, it’s a fun challenge and I learn a lot about both photography and life. Cheesy ending, DONE!