Friday, May 27, 2011

camera button friday: the idea of seeing part 1

I gave a photo tutorial about Vision at work the other day. I usually focus on Light and Form (otherwise known as Exposure and Composition) as the basic tutorial I have given many times, but this time I mixed it up a bit.

I recently read this quote from Elliott Erwin:
"Photography is just about seeing. You either see or you don't see. The rest is academic. Photography is a function of noticing things, nothing more."

(Yes, this is one of Elliott Erwin's images)

This gave me the language to start leaping into the realm of vision that my mind has been unconsciously playing in for a little while now.

I am starting to realize (after learning most of the required photography technique) that the “technical technique” is the way you produce the “image you see in your head” into a photo. First you need to "see" then you need to capture what you see in a way that represents what you saw; (duh, but stay with me here) all the technical knowhow is how you capture what you saw. Seeing comes first.

There are so many knowledgeable photographers out there (in this case, knowledgeable meaning they can talk about f-stops, camera lighting, and image sharpness) that are actually bad photographers because they have never learned to SEE! Yes gear and "know-how" is important…even necessary...but it is just a door that your vision needs to pass through to become a photo. It is like photo knowledge is the solution to your problem, the problem of connecting the photo you see to the final image that will communicate to others. But having the vision to see is the first step to creating an image.

The above images is a small example: I was at one of InterVarsity's camps last week, Cedar Campus, where I was trying to capture its beauty as well as the InterVarsity Students there having fun...but I was getting frustrated because all the photos I was taking were not conveying the feeling I had.  It was not until this girl turned around so that I could see her smile did my feelings for the location come across in the photo.

Now I realize that this may be very intellectual for many. And that is OK because I thought that at first too. But if you want to create compelling images, I want this to be the lens that gear and photo knowledge are viewed through; as a way of expressing our vision not as the vision itself.  I also realize that many aspiring photographers do not think they have a vision.  You do.  It is how you see the world.  Sometimes naming something can trivialize the simplicity of it.  Just know that seeing is just as important to photography as doing.

Next week I will better explain what I am thinking by telling you the story behind this image:

If you like this kind of talk about photography, check out David du Chemin’s blog, he has been thinking about this a long time…and even has a couple books on the subject.


paytonandjennie said...

Seriously one of the best posts I have ever read! You have definitely put words to some thoughts I've had about why I love photography

Garrett Hubbard said...

Go Matt! I so wish I could have been there to hear your lecture. I know they learned a lot from you.