For me, photography is all about seeing. The light, the color, the shadows…the moment. I’ve been serious about photography for about eight years now, but my love for the art has been around much longer. I got my first camera, a Kodak Disk, when I was in 6th grade. I burned through disks of film taking pictures of anything that would stand still…and things like our dog and my brother that would see me coming and run the other direction.
I currently shoot Nikon using primarily a 1.8/50mm lens. I’ve always had a love for prime lenses, but find that more and more I’m drawn to wide angles and zoom. I believe a 2.8/24-70mm is in my near future.
I’m a very simple shooter, always in manual, and don’t use a lot of props or equipment. I shoot almost 100% natural light with the occasional use of a reflector in the kitchen when taking a food shot, but even that feels cumbersome at times. What I really love is just taking the light I’ve been given and positioning myself and camera to make the most out of it.
For editing I use Photoshop, but very minimally. It’s my goal to get the shot as best I can in camera. I simply don’t have the time to sit editing for hours and to be honest, it’s not my favorite thing to do. Why sit at the computer when you could be out practicing and enjoying the light, right?
My advice on how to get better at making pictures is the same advice almost any photographer will give you…practice, practice. I heard an artist say, a few years ago, that he felt he didn’t truly grow in his art and ability until he made it a point to draw everyday. Hearing that struck a chord with me. Why wouldn’t I make pictures everyday? It’s what I love. It’s no different than an athlete perfecting his performance or a musician that plays a song until he’s got it right. So that’s what I do. I make pictures…everyday. I may not keep all of them, but that’s not the point. It won’t feel like you are learning or improving right away, but I guarantee that as you look back over time, you’ll see it.
Aside from practice, my only other advice would be to learn about light. Read about front light, back light, side light. Find out the difference between diffused light and direct. Study it even when you don’t have your camera. Look at the sky, the way the shadows fall from the trees or buildings. Pay attention to how the light hits different rooms in your house as the sun moves across the sky during the day. Train your eye. After awhile it will become second nature. It isn’t hard, it just takes time, a few mistakes and practice.
One of my favorite photography quotes is from Richard Avedon, a fashion photographer.
“If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up.”
Feel free to email me any photography questions you might have, I’ll do my best to answer them…