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Perfect pictures, perfect lies

Thoughts of the past • Perfect pictures, perfect lies

• Thoughts of the past •
Beauty shines through in a persons character.

The inner person…

A portrait should capture something special about the person. That special thing comes out in many ways. A different way in everyone. It’s always there. You cannot edit it in. But you can sure edit it out. Perfect lies are created when your edits make a deception of the original picture.

Perfect pictures

I love working with older people. Their characters are full and their faces tell you a lot about that inner person. Through their face they shine out as people who have experience and depth. That complements the story they tell you in words. At a recent shoot I was lucky enough to meet a large number of veterans.

We talked and I made photos of them. It was a lunch held in their honour. Many of them talked about what they did in the war. There was pride in the service they did. They talked less about what happened to them. I sensed a deep sense of melancholy in some of the words I heard. It was clear that these people remembered much more than they told.

Beautiful people are much more than just lovely faces. In our modern culture we shy away from imperfection. Every magazine shouts about the perfect in something. Faces, homes, products and many more things show some aspect of the perfect. Other media are the same.

In the faces of these veterans I saw perfection of a different kind. A completeness that comes with age. It is not the wrinkles or the blemishes. Those are surface things. It is about the roundness of experience, the depth of feeling and an acceptance of the world.

The images I made of these lovely people will not be found in magazines. They were not perfect pictures. These beautiful people showed the many imperfections we all know come with age. The point is, to me, that makes them all the more beautiful and interesting.

Perfect lies

The modern media that sell perfection create a world of perfect lies. The beauty in a person is swapped out for the false beauty made in Photo editor applications. My gentle adventure at the veterans lunch is the opposite of the smooth perfection found in the media today.

I have nothing against skilled editing. Photography today demands precise editing. Perhaps to a greater degree than in the past. To develop a photograph always involved a certain amount of editing. Today, photo editors give us much more editing power than the people using chemical films had. It is this power that allows the creation of perfect lies.

It is a shame that the power of photo editors has taken the art to beyond the true story of the photograph. I use edits in my photography. It is an important way to bring out the best in an image in post processing. However, I draw the line at creating a fiction. For me everyone has a beauty that can be shown in some way or another. You don’t need to create a fiction to bring that out. Perfect lies are told by the creation of a deceptive fiction by editing.

In the video below we can see this fiction emerging with every stroke of the brush. I question the validity of such work. It is not photography. It raises questions about how the media manipulate our view of women in particular. And other aspects of our everyday lives are affected too.

I know there are arguments for and against extreme edits. In some cases they create art. But the perfect lies are there when there is deliberate deception. Once a picture tells a story to deceive with intent, actual damage can be done. Modern media would have young people believe that gaunt is good. So many women hate their own bodies because they do not fit the size zero myth. Those same women have beauty of their own. They have had it all along. It is just taken away from them. It is flushed away by unreasonable expectations and the perfect lies of modern photo editing. That is a very sad thing.

How perfect lies are created

In the video below is an extreme make-over sequence. While it shows great skill, it tells a story that is a clear deception. It is important not blame people for this work. There is no conspiracy. This work is a cultural mindset. It is one we need to be aware of in our own photography. For me it is one I would like us to leave behind.

asdesigns1

If you are interested in some other extreme makeover videos there are plenty. YouTube has pages of them. Here is a sample of perfect lies in the making… PhotoShop extreme makeover videos.

Using your photos – ten ideas for crafts and gifts

Using your photos for gifts and crafts

• Using your photos •
Putting your photos to good use as gifts and crafts.

Why do you take photos? Most of them are never used.

We all like to see our shots when they are finished. But the vast majority go unused. They’re left in a folder for storage. What about actually using your photos? Artists have many different ways of using their shots. But most of us do not.

Using your photos – get motivated…

There is more to art than its existence. It must be seen too. We put a lot into our photography. Shame! All that work and energy – then nothing. Maybe it’s time to think about what we can achieve with our photos. This is a chance to get motivated for something more.

Some ideas for using your photos

Using your photos for positive things can be really satisfying. It’s a really great outcome for your interest. With some simple ideas you can produce some lovely things. Here are some ideas…

A host of projects for using your photos

You’ve seen some ways you can use your photos for craft projects and for great gifts.You will get great satisfaction for using your photos to make others feel good.

There are many other ways you could also use this craft idea. You can help some people who are not as privileged as you. These ideas make great revenue raisers for charity and care organisations. If you work for an organisation that needs to raise funds think of ways you can use these inexpensive methods of making things to sell. Benefits and fund raisers are great places to raise extra cash. Charities are ever grateful for such support.

There are probably many more crafts, and ways you can help others by using your photos. Have fun. Help people feel good. Check out some of the links above and come up with some ideas of your own.

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Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is editor of Photokonnexion. He has professional experience in photography, writing, image libraries, and computing. He is an experienced, webmaster and a trained teacher. Damon runs regular training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’
By Damon Guy :: Profile on Google+.

Ten motivational Tweets from @photokonnexion

Twitter is a medium of communication

Twitter is a medium of communication. It perfectly complements the power of photography.
 

Thinking about photography…

This blog shares a lot of information about the fundamentals of photography. The same can be said of the information we share on Twitter. Every day on Twitter @Photokonnexion provides motivational phrases, answers to questions, links to this site, quotes and great photography tips. Most of all we try to motivate the thousands of photographers who follow us. You can follow us too…


You can learn so much from so few words

Twitter is a succinct medium. You only have 140 characters to make your point. It is a challenge to put over great ideas in that small amount of text. Below are a few of the many @photokonnexion tweets…
• 
Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up. Every photographer had to start somewhere.
• 
The difference between an image and a photograph? Images conjure up meaning – photographs represent a scene. Aim for images.
• 
Failure is a dress rehearsal for success. The good photograph is the dress rehearsal for the great image.
• 
“The art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer.” ~ Steven Pinker.
• 
Photography has bought great value to my life. You can see so much through such a little window.
• 
Learning to be a photographer is about learning to see beauty and detail in everything and showing it to others.
• 
A closed mind will never understand photography. Insights come from opening your mind to new experience and knowledge.
• 
Everyone says “get closer”. They mean you to fill the frame. I mean to look closer! Seeing is the first step in photography.
• 
Rejoice, tell a story. Your images can communicate so much. Let your pictures speak to the world.
• 
Photography is a varied and engaging ray of light in your day. Make some images. You deserve a little sunshine.
• 

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Abstract photography – three abstract insights

When Science Meets Art - Fabian Oefner. (About abstracts in art)

• When Science Meets Art – Fabian Oefner •
Abstract art is all around us. Some projects get deep into special ideas. Others are more about the abstracts we all miss right in front of our eyes.
{Image taken from a video below}

Art is not straight forward

Abstract photography is often about how an artist views things rather than what is shown. Abstracts bring out the artists unique view of the world. The photog isolates the special characteristics of the subject.

The nature of abstracts is…

The photographers vision of the world is often about emotion. We are able to see into a subject because we become attached to it, understand it. We try to feel its impact on ourselves and to find a way to translate that into a picture. Often such “seeing” comes from a personal study of composition and aesthetics. It helps to understand the elements of art too. These are not requirements for making abstracts. They are a base for abstract seeing. They help artists analyse and know “abstract”. However, they contribute little to creating one.

The real issue is the way that an individual artist approaches making an abstract.

Abstract art comes to those who observe more than the “whole” of something. The minute detail through to the overall view of a subject is important. Abstract artists are aware of form and shape, texture and colour and a myriad of other detail. This awareness is different in everyone. Certain details catch the eyes of some people and not others. Some forms or patterns stimulate some and not others. This uniqueness is the key to “seeing” abstracts.

By ignoring some details or components of a scene or subject, and by building up others, it’s possible to construct the ‘abstract’. This is a new entity emphasising these details and elements.

Success in making abstract photos grows with experience of, and a personal view of, the subject matter. That might be made up of a deep study of the material and behaviour of the subject. It might also be a deep response to cultural and artistic baggage in the artists character. It could be both and more.

The mystery of creating abstracts?

The emotions that commit artists to a creative act are not easy to analyse. The act of creating abstracts is difficult too. By knowing a little of our own background, interests and experience we can see how to approach their creation.

Our own creativity can develop from learning about it in others. One route to knowing an abstract artist is via their enthusiasm and commitment. In the videos below you see into the artists themselves. They may help your view of the process of making abstracts.

The first artist is Fabian Oefner. His interest is in abstracts through science. He shows a number of his projects. He explains how they came about and what was involved.

Fabian Oefner: Psychedelic science  External link - opens new tab/page

Lester Hayes was an early maker of abstract photos. He knew very little to start. He talks about becoming involved and why he saw abstracts. Clearly there is a deep emotional commitment for him in making abstracts.

Abstract Photographer Lester Hayes Uploaded by Anthony Mournian  External link - opens new tab/page

Next, we visit the world of Sergio Muscat. His abstracts have an organic quality. He shows his wonder of nature. He explains where he gets his vision with quotes and written comments between pictures. I became wonderfully connected to his thinking while watching.
Sergio Muscat  External link - opens new tab/page
In the quote below he shows that photos reflect reality. But they interpret the world. His insight into abstracts is about the same plastic reality on which photography is based.

Unlike other media, a photograph is always based on a real, material origin. Rather than looking at this as a disadvantage, we should understand that this same fact makes photography the ultimate surreal medium – simply because photography, although based on reality, is very far from the truth.
Sergio Muscat – Abstract Photography – YouTube

Photos never truly show what the eye sees. This is a deep part of the ideas in abstracts.

Seeing is not knowing

We may come to know the nature of the ‘abstract’. Yet, abstracts are a fragile gossamer. Each has its own essence. Catch it and you may destroy it.

Knowing a little of the artist helps. With that we may know a little of their approach to abstracts. That way we may learn to bring it out in our own work.

Further reading on abstracts

In other articles I have looked at the nature of abstracts. For more interest, follow up on these…

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Why do new? Just do you!

Reflection of a girl in a shop window. Don't do new, do you

• Monochrome girl in blue •
When starting out try out lots of things. As you develop your interests will start to find a focus.

Style is you.

Photography is your interest. Do it your way. When learning you’ll find joy in just trying out many new things. As you develop you will find your way of doing things becomes a form of self expression.

Self expression

Letting out the inner you in your photography is one of the highest forms of success. Every photograph is a unique form of communication. So when you focus on something that you are interested in, passionate about, you express your inner self in a powerful way. Self expression is how top photographers make a success of their business. Clients come to them because they like the way the photographer does it.

Doing new is not you

Less experienced photographers think that they will only “make the grade” by dreaming up something new. It is a seductive idea – our modern culture is built on “new”. Trust me on one thing. There are very few ways of doing something “new”. New techniques, new ideas, never-seen-before views… totally new stuff – these things are far and few between. Photographs are published online in their millions every day – literally. A photographer cannot hope to do “new” all the time or even frequently.

“New” is something that will happen – but normally as a result of a very individual form of expression. When you really express you, really do it your way, you are doing “new”. Truly individual expression comes from doing it your way. The picture may be of an oft-seen subject. The way you do it is what will make it a lasting image in the mind of the viewer.

If you concentrate on developing your pictures around your special way of seeing you will be developing your style. That is what will give you the edge, the new way of doing it. Look for the light the way you like it. Take the point of view you like to see things from. Express the colours in the scene in the unique pallet you love to have around you. These things will all contribute to your style and your expression.

Ironic isn’t it? So many photographers look for the new, the different, the next new idea. If they spent a little time looking at what they were really interested in they would find the “new” within themselves.

Remember to enjoy your photography

If photography becomes an stressful search for something that is not in you, then the fun will go out of it. Investing your shoot-time in a personal interest will bring out your passion in a unique way. In so doing you will increase your enjoyment. You will also find the “new” you were looking for. You will also find a new way to express your inner feelings about the world around you.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

Can you write? Of course you can!
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Ten reasons not to take pictures for free

You and your camera go beyond your hobby

• You and your camera •
Don’t let your hobby take over your life or put you under undue pressure.

Don’t feel guilty saying no to “photography-for-free”.

Keen photogs will probably be asked to take photos for friends. OK. Don’t be shy. The odd shot is fun. It’s about being friendly. What about when that ‘ask’ is really a ‘job’? Here are the ten reasons you need to think carefully before committing to a job without pay…

1. What is a job?

There’s no clear definition. The line between amateur and professional is blurred. Making good or great images is not the only factor involved. Being a professional photographer involves a whole lot more. A keen amateur can produce great images. But can they do it under the same pressure that professionals work under? This is the key to the issue. When you agree to do a “pictures-for-free-gig” you are doing what a professional will do – and not getting paid for it. Can you perform to professional requirements and provide the goods despite the pressure and no pay?

2. When it does not come out right who is at fault?

You! The person who agreed to do this is you. And, the responsibility is yours to deliver. Can you – deliver? You had better be clear about that; and happy to provide a comeback when it fails. Professionals carry professional indemnity to cover serious disasters and legal proceedings. Do you have cover? Have you thought about the consequences for something priceless – your friendship? A possible law suite and loss of friendship can both be devastating.

3. Unforeseen problems

Your friends have asked you to do a job. Do you know what problems are likely to crop up? They probably do not… and they rely on your expertise. You might be happy to produce the shots but do you really know what else is needed? Jumping in blind can be a minefield. What are the expected shots for this type of shoot? Do you even know to ask that question? Do you know what you will need to do to get that information? If you have not worked out what is needed to cover eventualities when problems arise you are in a difficult situation. If you do not see the problems it will be your fault. Are you sure you have covered everything? Think again. And again. For you it’s about photos. For your friends it is about their memories. You really need to be sure you know it all and what will happen.

4. Your time will not be respected…

Your “friends” will expect you to be on call. You may be happy with that. But you have your life to live too, right? Nevertheless, you are doing the job and you will need to be the one who covers the time. Some events have a lot of meeting time and provision for professional input. Do you have that time? Rehearsals, shoot lists, requirements and principle characters are all important and as the photographer you may have to meet them all. You may be required to meet people both during working hours and at evenings and weekends. You may be involved in planning for months ahead of the event. You will need to be ready to fall in line. If you are not being called to these meetings then you are potentially building up a legacy of problems for the day. When you don’t know the details of the event minute by minute but are required to get all the shots, who is at fault? Your time is important to the event. Or at least that is the way it will be seen by the event organisers. Can you really provide that resource? For free?

5. Professional standards

Sure, you will be told, “We don’t expect professional standards”. Your friends have seen your images. They know you are good. Will they feel so forgiving when you do not produce one hundred top quality images with all the expected and formal variations for their wedding, party, engagement, event etc.? One or two good ones from a shoot is great. For your personal interest it may be what you want. When you are working for someone else their expectations are more exacting. Professional standards are expected for all the shots, not just a few. Be ready to provide for that.

6. Things do go wrong!

You are the ONE! The person for the job. Do you have the eventualities covered? Here are some of the sort of things photographers might encounter…

  • You drop and break your camera on the day;
  • Your memory card is defective;
  • You get sick;
  • On the day you discover you are not allowed to use flash in church;
  • You break a lens;
  • Your daughter breaks an arm the day before the event;
  • You’re asked on the spot for shots you’ve not agreed or were not prepared to do;
  • A passing pedestrian steals your camera bag  External link - opens new tab/page;
  • A drunk guest wants to take “up front pictures” while you are doing the formal shots;
  • Extreme sunlight outside the church will blow out the white on the brides dress;

A professional photographer will have contingencies, strategies and cover for things like these. Things always go wrong in some respect. You need to cover for all these and be prepared for more. And, you need to do it for free.

7. People don’t value things that come free

It is almost a cliché – “the best things in life are the most expensive”. It may not be true. But it is a public perception. If you are doing this “job” for free there can be consequences. Your advice will be devalued because you are free. You will be on the same advice level as Aunt Mavis, the brides father and others. Worse, the chap down the road who is a retired photographer and family friend (who has never used a digital camera) will also be advising out of your earshot. Working in those conditions adds a pressure that is a new dimension beyond friendship (and professionalism). Be aware that doing the job – even if you get it right – may still damage your friendship.

8. Post production

A professional photographer provides an after-shoot service. Within a week the processed images are provided as contact-sheet choices for final prints. There may be a need for a book; a cd; other types of mounted images. Be prepared for about four or five days processing work. Then you will need to provide for the future requirements. You will need to be ready to send out images, keep copies available for updates and reprints for several months. You will also need to retain the images on file indefinitely (securely). You will need to make solid editorial decisions about which images you allow to be seen and which you do not. You may have a thousand images… common for amateur digital photographers. Post production is a big part of a professional shoot. Can you resource it? Can you make the grade in post production? Can you resist when your friends says she wants all the images, not just the ones you chose? Feel good about that?

9. One for free… many more to go

Once people know you do professional work – without the cost – you will be in the front line. All sorts of pressures and unreasonable requests will be made. You will be taken for granted. And, it will be up to you to resource it. Travel, printing, expenses, processing, insurance, time, new equipment – there is more to shooting regularly than simply turning up with your camera. You have to provide resources too. Remember, you will not have the benefit of income for it either. How do you say no to other friends and family when you have done a professional job once already?

10. Photography is fun – right?

Doing the free stuff is fun when you are doing it for you. There is a completely different spin on it when you are doing something under pressure for someone else and not getting anything but hassle in return. Professionals enjoy their job. They are prepared and resourced for the problems and pressures. You need to have the same resources and cope with those pressures too – free. Where is the fun in that? Taking a photography “job” for free takes the fun out of your work. And, it is no fun being taken for granted.

The overview

Despite the opinion of many people, photography is a job. There are professional standards, costs, requirements and pressures. You may want to take up professional photography. That’s fine. However, be prepared. I have pointed out the professional dimensions.

The key point is simple. There are additional pressures on you and your friendships when you let yourself be taken for granted by doing free work. Sometimes they go beyond professional pressure.

Feel free to do family shots, fun activities and enjoyable photography. Even a little charity work and some contributions to local groups are fine – on your terms. Be prepared for something that looks like a “job”. A polite withdrawal will be looked on with respect and friendship once you explain the pressures involved. Failing to make the grade will not be looked on with simple forgiveness.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

Can you write? Of course you can!
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Nine things to love about photography

• Tawny Eagle •

Click image to view large
• Tawny Eagle • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page
I love that photography gives lets me opportunity to indulge more than one passion at once. I love birds of prey and I love photography, the two passions are complementary.

There is so much in photography…

We all appreciate the variety of the photographic craft. The interest and experience differs for all of us – except we share the passion. Here are nine other things photographers can share.

The power to move

Tank Man

• Tank Man •
Click image to see the Wikipedia article
Image taken by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press, from a sixth floor balcony of the Beijing Hotel. The Tiananmen Square protest was an iconic photograph that moved a generation.


There are so many things in modern life that grab our attention that it is easy to forget the most meaningful things. Photography has an exquisite power. It can both crystalise a story in an instant and move the world. The very existence of some modern photographs has moved people and created extraordinary outcomes. Photography has that power on a world scale, and a family scale. Photographers can use the power of photography to raise the emotional pitch, bring tears or move a generation.

Communication

If a picture is better than a thousand words, the power of photography to pass a message is absolute. It is amazing that I can say, “I love you!”, with a carefully thought out click of a button. With just the same determination I can express my anguish or make make someone’s heart ache at the beauty of nature. Each time I click the button I like to think about what I am trying to say. If my image tells a story, communicates some meaning, then it succeeds. Photographers are communicators and we all share that responsibility and privilege.

Bring people together

Even the simplest family snapshot is precious. Some of the most important events of my life have been preserved through photographs or because I held a camera and made an image. It is in those moments in which we feel so close to others that photography expresses itself most intimately. Family, friends, co-workers and correspondents across the world share an intimate connection through their presence on a photograph or the act of sharing a photograph. Photography has the power to knit people together.

Remind us

Photography has an awesome power to remind us of the good, the bad and the ugly events and times in our world. An individual photograph can be manipulated to create fiction. However, the collective memory of horrors like the Nazi atrocities in the Second World War are kept alive by the wide spread of stark images and horrific documentation from diverse sources. We are reminded of the past in very real ways by our photography. Any one of us photographers could, at any moment, make the picture of the century. Take your camera with you everywhere. It may be a picture you make now. For your grandchildren it may be history.

The story of a moment, and much more

When the button is pushed a story is made in the instant of a second it takes for the exposure to form. So much can be captured in that moment. The story of an instant is somehow more powerful than an hour-long documentary. It sums up so much about the situation, the people and the detail.

Dad and Harold Wilson

• Dad and Harold Wilson •
My father (right hand side) after a meeting, pictured with Harold Wilson (centre) shortly before Wilson became Prime Minister. One shot, in an instant, tells both a family story and a national event.

The moment of creation in a photograph is both unique and a shared experience. That instant will never happen again, yet we all recognise at least some of the imperatives in that capture. As photographers we share the power to see and tell stories through our pictures.

Sharing

So much of the photographic history of the world is about sharing. Collective experiences are seen in the most iconic photographs where historic memories are captured, right through to the humble wedding of your neighbour. At all levels in our society and in all aspects of our cultures we share our experiences with our friends, loved ones and comrades. Since the time of cave paintings humans have recorded collective events that draw the community together. Today our photographs continue help us to form communities and provide a focus for them. There is no better example than online photographic communities – great communities where a love of photography is shared with a passion.

Breaking barriers

Seldom do we think of the author when we see a photograph. We are focussed on the subject and the meaning we see in that image. Photography is a medium where the outcome matters more than who made the image. Despite race, religion, gender, colour, sexuality or legal status your picture can compete on a level with all the others. Photography is truly an open and classless pursuit. I love that we can be all equal and have our own point to make. Photographers the world over share an equality that surpasses many other aspects of our societies in an unequal world. I celebrate diversity, welcome it, and rejoice in the fact that I am part of a community of photographers worldwide with whom I can share a common interest.

The expression of love

There is nothing more special than love expressed between people. Photography shares with other visual arts the ability to help us express our love. But the immediacy of photography can bring alive the imperatives of a loving relationship with graphic explicitness. Weddings, the kiss, love pictures and even the boudoir are just a few of the myriads of ways we can express the joy of love through photography. If there is one thing we photographers should share and spread around it is love.

Memory

Of all the things we will gain from photography, keeping alive personal memories must be one of the most important. As we get older the fleeting moments of our youth, which seemed to pass so quickly, become very precious. As photographers we have a wonderful opportunity to preserve our memorable moments for ourselves, our loved ones and descendants. We should not spoil the moment just to be behind the camera. But, we should enjoy the moments we take to capture the memories so that in the future we may recapture our lives all the more vividly and share them once again with others. Take every opportunity to capture images of those you love and who mean a lot to you. Blurred or ill-conceived, harsh or badly exposed, you will treasure every one in the future.

These are just a few things…

Photographers can share and give so much to the world. If you have some others to add to my list please leave some comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

Can you write? Of course you can!
Write for Photokonnexion...

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