Learn from the words of great photographers
While these photographers inspire by the power of imagery, they also capture the essence of photography in their words. Here are lessons from the great with updated ideas for aspiring digital photographers.
Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
Digital photography makes it easy to take pictures. Cartier-Bresson was talking ten thousand photographs in the days when one hundred shots was a major shoot using film. Today we might shoot off a thousand photographs in a day. I bet we don’t have as many quality keepers in that 1000 as he did with his 100!
Think about shooting off 50,000 digital shots and aim for 50 quality images in your portfolio. That may seem a hard target. Yet, if you are thinking, reviewing, reading, experimenting and photographing you will need that time to develop your skills. Good photographs develop from quality reviews of your work, interaction with other artists and critics, learning new techniques and practice, practice, practice. There is a whole lot more to photography than simply shooting lots of photos.
You don’t take a photograph, you make it.
How many happy snappers do you know? For the great majority of ‘photographers’ Ansel Adams words are NOT true today. Most people take photographs. Only an experienced and committed photographer makes photos. What Adams says is true IF you have committed yourself. To truly make a photograph you have to be immersed in it, be a part of it, when you press the release button.
If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough.
Great photographers fill the frame with the great things they see. It is a wonderful thing to capture just what is needed to make a great photograph. It is even better to show it bold and big. This is as true today as when Capa spoke the words. However, today it is too easy to crop the shot to suit the frame. Work with your subject to fill the frame in-camera so you don’t have to crop in post-processing. That way your shots will be better composed and the quality of the image will not be degraded by a low resolution crop.
It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.
It is a mistake to think that looking through the viewfinder is everything. Good photographers communicate with the people they photograph. If you want your subject to relax, pose naturally, smile and be themselves – work with them. A bad-tempered photographer is no photographer at all! Your passion may be photography, but your connection must be with the people in front of your lens.
Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase.
Percy W. Harris
Most photographers today are guilty of attempting improvement-by-purchase at some time. The consumer photography market is seductive and fast moving. Resist the temptation to buy your next piece of camera equipment until you know your existing equipment absolutely inside-out. Modern DSLRs, even entry-level ones, are sophisticated enough to take years to learn. Ironically, it is pretty certain many of today’s iconic photographs will be taken on point-and-shoot cameras. Great photographs are not created just because you have a great camera. In 20 years time nobody will ask what camera a shot was taken on. It will be the shot that counts.
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