During this holiday season, it's good to take a few moments out to give thanks. Here are some thoughts I I wanted to share.
First, I'm thankful that technology continues to advance which allows more people to easily get involved in the world of photography. Every reasonably good cellphone these days comes with a built in camera that makes taking pictures and sharing them with friends and family incredibly easy. Consumer interest in photography has never been higher. And that in turn drives down cost for all of us, even those who most often shoot with something more than just a cell phone. That's cool. Cameras today truly are technological marvels.
Anyone serious about their images can get their hands on some serious gear — cameras, lenses and accessories that rival the best available just a few short years ago. And because of that, the old crutch of believing that not having good equipment keeps otherwise talented folks from getting the shot has been pulled out from under us all. Except in the most extremely demanding circumstances, equipment is no longer the issue — having the skill and vision to use it effectively is. I'm thankful for that. It keeps me humble and focused on what matters.
And that leads me to a related thought that I am truly thankful for. Photography still photography. Even as technology advances, it's still more than possible to stay in control of your image making. The very technology that might otherwise overwhelm also makes it possible to simplify. It's a dual-edged sword you see. Under the covers, there's a lot of complex science and engineering that contribute to raw image capture and processing. But that same science and engineering also goes towards building extremely powerful but simplified tools that make it possible for those of us who are not scientists and engineers to control all that technology.
I like that. Photography, at its heart, remains a creative pursuit, not a technological one. Even while increasing degrees of technical sophistication are brought to bear on the pursuit of photographic imaging, it remains a very human endeavor — one where the photographer makes the images and the camera is a tool, not the other way around. Familiarity with at least some of that technology helps of course, just as familiarity with the capabilities and limitations of various film stocks did in years past. But also now as it was then, photography is still just "painting with light." The greatest hurdle remains seeing the image and its potential in the first place.
I'm also thankful that we can all continue getting better at this quest to create images. It's a skill that has to be practiced, and nobody is really born with it even if at times it may seem as if everyone but us is. When I look back at images I was proud of in my early days, I can see how far I've come. I'm still proud of those images, but now in a different way. I remain thankful for having been able to capture them because they led me to where I am now. I'm hopeful that in the future I can look back on what I'm shooting now with that same sense of thanks for helping me to get even better. That's the way it works after all. Enjoying what you're doing today provides the motivation to use what you've learned to do even better tomorrow.
And since you are most likely reading this on the internet, I'm thankful that we can do so much on the internet these days — another byproduct of that same ever-advancing technology. But I'm even more thankful that we still need to go outdoors to shoot most nature photography subjects.
This brings me to the final thought I wanted to share with you this week. I'm extremely thankful for living in such a beautiful world filled with mountains and rivers, sunrises and sunsets, wildflowers and waterfalls, and countless other every day wonders. Even as "progress" sometimes seems to conspire to keep us otherwise engaged, amazing sights are still there — in countless vistas both large and small — just waiting for us to notice them. I'm grateful for the ability to be in awe of the world just as I am for the ability of the world to amaze and inspire me.