WHAT YOU BRING - 18 May 2013
Sunset - Mormon Lake Lodge, AZ
I am on my way to Yellowstone National Park. Along the way, I stopped at this gigantic outdoor event called the Overland Expo. Lots of people are here learning to off road and enjoy the outdoors. Many of us are camping including two fellows parked next to me from Santa Cruz, California. Coincidentally, one of the guys has recently been bit by the photography bug and was gracious enough to allow me to give a few pointers. Probably the most important lesson of the day was how important "he" was to the equation.
What started as me simply explaining my tripod turned into a little session on how to shoot pictures. It was a fast and furious lesson taking only 30 minutes. Good thing my student was a quick study because we covered depth of field, composition, and the basic mechanics of perspective. I ended with how to "discover" pictures and introduced the most important ingredient to this process was him, the photographer. The key point I made was "we're all full of creativity that's just waiting to come out."
You've heard me comment before how important important the photographer is to the creative process. As obvious as this statement sounds, we rarely talk about it and certainly spend less time teaching it. We mostly talk about the equipment and what equipment to buy vs how to bring forth our inherent creative ability. I think that's a mistake.
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Pablo Picasso
The issue is we probably exercised our creativity a lot more as kids doing finger paint than we do nowadays. The challenge nowadays is to recapture that zeal as adults. I found the best way is to simply stop and consider what you want to shoot. What I mean is look at a scene. Consider why it's worth shooting. Setup your camera to capture whats important. Then, push the trigger. In other words, use your brain to create the image in your mind's eye, then work to capture that image.
A technique is to align your thought process so the point is all about creativity. When we do that, we work in an atmosphere where our brains can imagine solutions. For photographers, a great exercise for this is the 10 foot exercise. That's where we pick a spot in the woods and take 40 pictures within 10 feet of that spot. After a while you have to work your brain to find good compositions. Another good exercise is doing the same in your kitchen or even harder, your bathroom.
For me, I've been tuned enough to my creativity that I get attracted to areas without really knowing why I was attracted. The task becomes finding the thing that attracted my eye. That's when. I bring forth an active part of my creativity. If you see me in those situations, I'll be out there with hands extended out in front of me simulating a frame like I was some sort of director prepping a scene. This is all before I actually set my camera up to create the image.
I hear lots of new photographers talk about fixing things in Photoshop. I've found depending too much on post processing tends to hurt the creative process. With our brains working at full speed, you'll capture the best image possible in the first place making the post processing work that much less important. And, in those situations there's a clear continuity between what you see and the product at the end. For the creative process, this way is so much more "purposeful" than happenstance approach if you waited to the end in post processing to define what your mind could see.
I'm glad I was able to work on photography this weekend, especially in the instructional mode. It helps remind me of the core lessons I learned from others or discovered on my own. We do bring a lot to our creations. I even believe we are the most important part of that.