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Doing Your Part

No matter what camera you shoot with, I'm guessing you'd love an even better camera, setting aside whether you could pay for it or not. Better cameras make capturing great images easier, right? But what about your part? The camera can't do this by itself you know.

First off, I feel obliged to state up front that I love all the advances that technology has brought to photography. Who doesn't love better resolution, better exposure, better focus, better everything? Again, not getting into whether any of us are in the market for a new camera and can afford one and all that. Just as a point of discussion for now. It so happens that a lot of the same technology that went into making whatever device you are reading this on sharper and smaller and faster and better has also gone into improving the camera equipment we all use. So, there's really no question about it. Everyone agrees that better camera technology can help to make for better images.

But is that all there is to it?

Set your camera down on a table or nearby flat surface. Some place where it won't fall off. Now, how long do you think it will take for it to take a picture by itself. No fair cheating by firing the shutter yourself via remote or leaving it on some multiple-exposure or bracketing mode before setting it down or something. If you haven't already guessed, that camera won't end up taking many pictures on its own. Or let's at least agree it's unlikely to shoot very many good ones for sure, even if we hold out hope for a random, quantum entanglement or believe in telekinesis or come up with some other loophole.

OK, this may or may not seem somewhat humorous or odd, but I've observed that not all photographers fully accept their own part in the process of creating good images. And even if you do, I'm betting you'd still agree that there's always more that can be done if we dig a little deeper.

Obviously, our part includes buying all that wonderful gear. We can't set the point or cost aside indefinitely. The bills will come due, and serious photography can cost serious dollars. If we shell out the money to buy the best gear, that must mean we're serious photographers. Well, sort of, but I'd suggest that your part has to include a bit more. And I don't just mean schlepping it to exotic, photogenic locations at ungodly hours of the morning, when most normal people are still asleep in bed.

Of course, we do press the shutter release. At least until cameras get even smarter. The mechanical act of pressing the electronic shutter release clearly important. No shutter release equals no picture. But there has to be more than just looking and acting the part of being a photographer. It's your passion for photography and what you do with it that will guide you toward real improvement.

No, it's the less tangible things we bring to this that interests me here. It's what your part is in this. What my part is. That lovely camera you bought is just a tool. If you care about what you do, you probably want the best tools you can afford. And it's because you care that you will find some way to schlep that camera to some cool places as time permits, even if more than one of those cool places is in your own super-cool back yard.

It's what's behind all this that is of interest to me here today. And it should be to you as well, if you want to be serious about your photography. It doesn't matter whether you sell your work or not. All that matters here is that you clearly have some sort of interest in photography beyond the casual. You enjoy it, and you would like to be as good as you can be at it, within the specifics of your own situation and circumstances. So, what is it that you like about photography?

Surely there's some reason why you and I crossed paths and no doubt photography has something to do with it. And I could go on about what I like about photography and what I think you should be paying attention to, but that can only get us so far. What matters more is for you to follow what you like in order to learn what to pay attention to. There are lots of places you can find helpful pointers to improve in one area or another. Hopefully I've done my small part here for instance. But what about you? What's your part? The more each of us can own our own role in all this the better we will become.

On its own, the camera may be to take pictures somehow (who really knows), but it takes your involvement to create images that have meaning and have the potential to truly connect. You have to find the subject and see its potential. You have to assess the situation to find a way through camera placement and composition to realize that potential. There are countless possible photographs that can be made for any given subject, and there are countless numbers of subjects out there, discovered and waiting to be. Don't settle for the camera deciding what pictures to take. Explore what interests you and follow where it leads. Make your photography your own.

Do your part. Don't let your camera have all the fun by itself.

Date posted: December 23, 2018


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Pre-visualization versus Post-visualization
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What Gets in the Way

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