Guest Blogger - Jason D. Moore
First off, I want to thank Rob for inviting me to step in this week as his guest blogger.
With the release of a new camera model every few months, photographers of all stripes are always talking about getting their hands on the latest body or glass. For some, it’s about keeping up to date with the latest technology and pushing the boundaries of the art. For others, it’s about the status of shooting with a hot camera and having the image of a pro.
For me, it’s not about having the newest camera; it’s about having a creative vision and figuring out how that vision can be realized. Cameras and lenses are only tools of the trade, they aren’t the trade itself. Your camera is an important part of the creation of your art but what’s more important is your sense of how best to tell the story of the image. You can take a photo with your shiny new Nikon/Canon /What-Have-You that cost more than a decent used car, with a lens that is longer than your forearm, and process the shot with an expensive software package, but if you don’t have a sense of framing, composition, subject, and how to combine it all to communicate effectively with your viewers, the rest doesn’t matter.
Don’t get me wrong, knowing how to use your tools is a key step towards achieving your goals as an artist and you should always work at honing your knowledge and skills. But the tools aren’t everything.
What I do is, first, observe the world around me and look at the details of things: how the object sits within its environment, its colors and textures, how the light falls. Then, I take it a little deeper and think about the different messages and meanings that are associated with the subject and how best to bring those messages out.
In my reading of blogs and photography books, I recall someone writing once how their mentor once said, “get close, and then, get closer.” Though I had never heard it put that way before, it was something that I had been doing subconsciously for a while. After I’ve taken the opportunity to consider all of the details mentioned above, I then look again at the subject to find a segment or element that best encompasses the whole.
The subject is the “what” of the message. The composition and the processing are the “how.” Once the shot is taken and you bring it into Lightroom/Photoshop you are then shaping how the message of the subject is communicated. You emphasize the tones and colors, maybe add a special effect to enhance a portion of the photo or to direct the gaze of your viewer. But still, it’s not about the tools, it’s about how to use those tools to shape what you are trying to say.
Learn your camera. Know how to use the various settings. Get to the point where you feel comfortable with your tools so they don’t get in the way of your ability to communicate. Photography, like any other visual art form, is about showing the world from your unique perspective. So look around. Compare the work of photographers you admire with your own to see what they are doing differently and how you might incorporate some of those concepts into your own work as you develop your personal creative style. But, most of all, be true to yourself and your vision. Always work towards becoming a better visual storyteller. With that goal in mind, it won’t matter whether you’re using an expensive dSLR, a point-and-shoot, a Polaroid, or a disposable camera, Lightroom, Aperature, or Photoshop, film or digital, jpeg or RAW. When the subject and communicating that subject in a meaningful way is your focus, everything else is secondary.