Self Discovery

What has self-discovery got to do with a blog about photography? Well everything. Photography can inspire creativity, invoke emotion, and help you see the wonderful world we live in through new eyes, well eye!, actually viewed through your camera lens. ( lets not even talk about holding the camera in front of you with two shaky hands while trying to compose a shot looking at the back display) Photography can be a hobby or lead to a profession. In my case a hobby started in my teens developed into my profession and how great it is to make a living doing something that you love.

When you master your camera and start to make images rather than take images (automatic mode) then the joy of photography is something hard to explain to your friends. However, rather than losing friends you gain new ones that share your new passion.  

When people discuss television and say something along the lines of “never watch it etc.” then you may initially think it’s understandable as there is so much rubbish broadcast. On the flip side however, if you are unable to get to parts of the world that are so different to your world, then television can bring incredible documentaries and information right in to your room. No matter what your hobby or interests you can become involved with major sporting events, political debates, or environmental messages that can change the world we live in. You select what you watch and turn it off when you’re done.

Your camera is doing the same thing – one of my first questions for students is ‘what is your passion?’, it can be sport, still life, people, landscapes. The possibilities are endless. What is important is to get out of automatic mode and take images that truly represent the things you are passionate about. Your camera is just a tool to help you record the world you love.

Before we talk about styles of photography, here is a little background in teaching. When I am working with students and ask them to deliver homework though a private social media group I used to be disappointed that their homework was not always completed. After a while and having asked a few questions the penny dropped, people were not posting images because they thought I was expecting perfection and artistic representations. This is far from the case, when we are considering for example, an image where the subject is in focus and the background is blurred, all I’m looking for is proof that the teaching has been successful. We need to master the camera before we concern ourself with artistic expression.

I was told recently about a photography course that encouraged students to forget the camera controls because everything will be fixed in Photoshop. This message truly disturbs me. My aim is to help students to take photographs that are as perfect as possible without any post process manipulation.  

When you are fully in control of your camera, this is when photography can get exciting. Control options become intuitive like driving a car and changing gear without thinking. At this point not only your particular interests become key, but your style of photography also starts to become evident. You are looking through your viewfinder and making adjustments and making images that are strong and interesting but significantly not a surprise. This is a great place to be, your camera is a tool under your control. The buttons and options are not designed to confuse you and they don’t anymore. 

Self-discovery through your photography is now happening – your style may not yet be evident to you but it is developing. Sometimes it takes an observer to enlighten you to the fact that you have a way of capturing images.

Mark Bradshaw and friend did a presentation at my home for a bunch of ex-students who are now part of a group formed to recognise photographers who really push and continue to develop.  Mark’s distinctive style is often minimalist. I love what he photographs and always appreciate that he so often tries to convey a message in his work. Sample below.

 

 

This sample of Mark’s work is so carefully crafted to match the perfect line of the wall with the edge of the mountain.  Mark explained to me that the parasol being at a slight angle breaks the line and symmetry of this image, if it had also been in line then the image would not have worked as well.

We are all influenced by each other’s work and like anything else in life you will unknowingly absorb and be influenced by everything around us.  As a photographer this can be both exciting and rewarding.  A lot of what we see and experience with without question help you develop a broader and stronger portfolio of work.   

My photography and my view of the world is totally different to marks.  I  just don’t see these simple lines, but I’m going to try.  My view is all about mixtures strong contrasts and busy information.  My passion is people photography although I like Mark do not stay in one place And alway have a camera ready to try and record what I see.  We just see things differently and isn’t that a good thing?

 

2 Comments

  1. by Mark Bradshaw on Thursday, 27 September  7:51 pm Reply

    Good words Phil.
    Like everything else in the world its easy now to cut corners and pick a quick fix like a mobile phone etc which a fantastic a lot of the time but so limited and they can't look at a scene and produce a result that the photographer sees it takes the best picture the camera sees which is often fab but often not.
    I learnt the triangle of aperture/shutter speed/ISO when I was a small lad and knowing how low a shutter speed you can really do hand held and how high you can push iso without going grainy and all the rest gives true control which when you pull it off and through your own knowledge and creativity it is a great feeling and the ability sets you apart from the millions of snaps the vast majority of people take. They may be perfectly happy with their results but I bet they would be a lot happier with the fire shot above which would not be possible without understanding how light works when trying to capture it in a camera.
    I can operate my Nikon in the dark...I love it more than my wife and when you are in the presence of beauty and you point your camera at it and excitedly try to make the same image onto the camera back and you do then there is no better feeling in the world.
    Make them instead of taking them:-)

    • by Phil Punton on Monday, 1 October  9:31 pm Reply

      Well said Mark and we are so on the same page.

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