Use photographic roots. Stop and think.
Today is the first day I have sat in front of a computer to write a blog. I’ve chosen to write about a subject that I hope touches photographers everywhere. The key to taking not great photographs but in my mind, exceptional imagery.
Up until around 2008, unless you had some serious cash lying around, the quality of film from a 35mm camera was still slightly better than most DSLR available on the market. Today as I am writing in 2015, we are in a position where everyone has a camera with them whether it’s the smartphone in your pocket or a DLSR in your hand. Digital imagery is now readily available to everyone at exceptional levels of picture quality. This owed to the commercialisation of photography and technical advancements.
This is my advice to anyone who has never had the experience of shooting with film or has never had the desire to do so. It’s actually quite simple advice,
No this isn’t an advertisement for road safety!
Imagine, if tomorrow you left your house and you only had two film canisters and a camera with you. Now let’s say you are shooting with a medium format camera, this gives you 24 photographs that you can create and that’s it! You are unable to take endless amounts of pictures anymore as you only have a certain amount of film. How would you decide to use that film?
So let’s get to the point…
You have no delete button, you have no ability to view your picture(s) before you take the next. Everything you are looking to capture has to be done with complete focus through the viewfinder. This means you have to analyse everything that’s inside that frame, question every element, the composition and consider if something is needed in the frame too.
What you will find is that every picture you take will be completely focused on the subject and frame at hand. You will be considering every aspect of the image such as, am I in the correct position for this picture? Does the subject need to be a part of this picture? You will find yourself spotting things that you have never thought of before because the photograph has to be right first time.
You are now so used to having a camera in your pocket, when you pull out that device to take a picture you take several shots, there is no thought to what you are doing other than wanting to create a quick memory for yourself or to boast about what you are doing on Facebook. There is no real thought to the image you are creating, no stop and think. Like every successful commercial product, this habit has become embedded into our culture.
Now, if you can apply this thought to every image your take going forward, if you stop and think, you will begin to create photographs on another level. Everything from taking wildlife pictures to your daily snapchat selfies. The output from taking the time to stop and think can produce images greater than your ever thought. You will find yourself providing the audience you are pushing your content to with an image that is 100% what you intended them to see. Think of it like finding the quickest route to work and cutting out the nonsense of traffic jams or perhaps editing your current blog post with only relevant words.
Great photographers are absolute thinkers. They have a deep understanding of what they are framing in their image, what they want to capture, what story they want to tell in the same way a painter creates an image on their canvas, showing only what they want the viewer to see.
I’m not suggesting that we all trade in our digital camera and go back to the dark ages shooting film like Henri Carter-Bresson. My point is if we can use these principles in current times we may be able to provide the world with some really amazing imagery with any modern day camera.
To end this post I Want to leave you a question. I want you to ask yourself before snapping your next image, whatever it is,
Is everything in this image relevant?
Written By Mitchell Brown Edited by David J Mann