I’m not there yet.
My photography journey continues, spurred on by the inspiration of some amazing photographers. But I have learned a few things and I’d like to share six things I now know about photography. It’s entirely possible some of them may be interesting, or even true.
1. I am a photographer. This may seem odd but it was only a couple of years ago that I could finally utter the words, “My name is Lyle Krahn and I am a photographer.” It took me a few decades to figure out that the most simple, yet profound, definition of a photographer is someone who takes pictures.
The gold standard I was seeking to get my ‘photographer designation’ kept moving as my expectations kept getting higher. It was better to focus on that sage old advice, “F8 and be there,” from Arthur Fellig.
2. When I say I enjoy photography, I really mean wildlife and nature photography. I’m hooked on emotion rather than science – so chances are pretty good I will have no idea what kind of bird flew into my photo.
It’s such a thrill for me to find wildlife and make photos – even better if it’s a bear! I’m inspired by John Marriott – an incurable grizzly fanatic and self-taught photographer.
3. I really like camera gear. All those buttons, menus and smooth gears – pure poetry. But David DuChemin constantly reminds his blog readers to quit focusing on the latest camera equipment and spend more time on photography. His mantra is, “Gear is good, vision is better.”
I’ve tweaked that slightly to, “Gear is fantastic, now how am I going to convince my wife to let me buy that new lens.” Surprisingly, good gear doesn’t always help me make better photos. One of my best photos was taken with a point and shoot, but please don’t tell my wife.
4. I keep learning. There’s so much to learn in all aspects of photography. Scott Bourne said it well, “Remember, 98% of all lenses are better than 99% of all photographers. It turns out once again I’m in the 99%!
I’ve committed myself to learning. Sometimes it’s just remembering the basics like Joe McNally’s advice, “If you want to take more interesting pictures, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”
5. I discovered there is a gold standard for my photography. My dream is to be able to consistently envision a photo concept, take the photo and then process it to match the concept. In the meantime, I keep firing away.
Ultimately it’s trying to capture emotion. Guy Tal does that, “In my work, I wish to reflect something of the experience of creation, discovery, and romance that I felt myself at the time of making the image.”
6. At the end of the day I try to follow Darwin Wigget’s advice to make photos that speak to my soul. If others like it, that’s nice.
Photography is even more subjective than I ever dreamed. My family, friends and even esteemed camera club members rank photos vastly differently than I do. Sometimes the photo judging made me hyperventilate. The therapy still isn’t working.
Six points as promised but one last thing trumps them all. I have a very understanding wife. She puts up with my gear obsession and has waited countless hours for me to take thousands of photos … that I later deleted.
The journey continues.
(adapted from a presentation to my camera club)