Monday, April 27, 2009

When I press the shutter...(repost)

Welcome, dear readers to my anniversary week on the ol' blog here. If you missed it, I posted a little something over the weekend to serve as a reward for all your hours of reading my drivel. Check it out!
This week, to serve several purposes, I'll be reposting a few of my more popular posts. I'd like to say that I have a higher purpose, but mostly, I just have some serious amounts of digital scrapbooking to do before Mother's Day. Can you say...."PANIC MODE"?
Let's stop wasting your precious time, and kick this puppy off with the first Photography Tutorial I wrote for this here blog. It was originally published in January of 2008. Several others can be found under the Photography Stuff tab under my header. ENJOY!


Nothing makes my day more than sharing my photographs with others. I adore the entire process of photography. From the moment of pressing the shutter....to the perusing of the digital files....editing and cropping....to printing or sharing online. Each step of the way brings me a certain amount of joy, however, none so much as seeing the final product, and hearing the thoughts of others.

Fairly often I am asked, "What camera are you using?" This question alone is a reasonable one, and I am more than happy to share my thoughts on my camera. However, when it's sandwiched between these statements, "I love your photos!" and "I would love to get photos like that!", I get my back up a tiny little bit. Recently, I stumbled upon the following little story, and it struck a cord. I was finally able to put words to what has been bothering me.

When Jack London had his portrait made by the noted San Francisco photographer Arnold Genthe, London began the encounter with effusive praise for the photographic art of his friend and fellow bohemian, Genthe. "you must have a wonderful camera...It must be the best camera in the world...You must show me your camera." Genthe then used his standard studio camera to make what has since become a classic picture of Jack London. When the sitting was finished, Genthe could not contain himself: "I have read your books, Jack, and I think they are important works of art. You must have a wonderful typewriter."

You see....wanting a nice camera isn't a crime. However, hoping that a certain camera will suddenly create the photographs you have been admiring, is a mistake. In fact, it is an error I have witnessed many people make. I personally know several people who purchased a specific camera solely based on that fact that they knew someone who had that exact camera, and admired their photography. These same people have not seen the results they were hoping for, and now regret having purchased said camera.

When choosing a camera, it is very important to know exactly what you are looking for, and understanding your personal desire to pursue photography. Bigger does not always mean better. More money, doesn't guarantee you fantastic photos.

What, then, should you do if you want to improve the quality of your photos? I'm glad you asked (you did right?)! My advice is to take the camera you currently own, and just start snapping, and I mean really snapping. It is through practice that one starts to see improvement. Learn your camera....take it to it's limits. Read great books on photography, or take a class. It is through understanding the basic principles that you finally will understand what is going wrong, or right for that matter, with your photos. When this happens....you start having some control over your outcome. Keep at it. At some point, if you are really, truly getting into this photography stuff, you will realize that you have reached your camera's limits, and will start looking at upgrading. It is at this time that asking advice and doing research becomes important. Just remember, it isn't the EXACT camera that makes the photographs you love. Someone is behind that lens....and has some natural talent, or worked hard, or most likely....BOTH! I have come a LONG way in this process, but I certainly have a lot to learn, and even more to practice. It is a challenge I thoroughly enjoy.

Last August I set out to take some 2.5 year old portraits of Miss Sugar Bear. I'd love to share my process, as I am also often asked, "How do you get her to sit still?" People often think that Sugar is just easy to photograph. Honestly, that is partly correct. She is easy, because she is used to the camera being attached to my hand, but she certainly doesn't just sit there and take direction. I have to keep her distracted and entertained.

On this day, we set out to one of our favorite parks, and features a lovely Japanese Garden. Sugar likes to explore the surroundings, and everywhere we turn the scenery is nice. I led Miss Sugar to the pond, and basically sat her on some rocks, and proceeded to just talk with her about the water, the plants, the ducks...and anything I could think of to make her look around. At certain moments I would grab her attention with a silly remark, or a funny sound. Yes, people, I am not above snorting in public! It works, she looks at me and laughs. If she attempts to leave, I just follow her, and redirect her to another spot.

I snapped approximately 50 shots in this location in about 10 minutes or so. Here are some of the results:

I like to call these the "Okay Keepers". They aren't bad...but not the portrait I was looking for. About 50-60% of the photos I take fall into this category.




You don't take a photograph. You ask, quietly, to borrow it. ~Author Unknown





People are so wonderful that a photographer has only to wait for that breathless moment to capture what he wants on film.
Weegee




The pictures you want tomorrow, you have to take today. - Kodak advertisement



Then we have the "bloopers"! Now I have to admit, as a mom...these are some of my favs. The bloopers are not the mistakes. They are just the ones that make me smile, let out a giggle, or just plain crack up. About 15% usually fall into this category, however, on this particular day, Sugar was a total ham sandwich.



A good snapshot stops a moment from running away. ~Eudora Welty





There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. ~Ansel Adams






Lastly, we have "The Ones". These are the photos from session that meet the purpose. Depending on the goal in mind, the amount of photos in this category can vary greatly. If portraits are in mind, I usually only get about 10%.



When you find yourself beginning to feel a bond between yourself and the people you photograph, when you laugh and cry with their laughter and tears, you will know you are on the right track. ~Arthur Fellig



Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter. ~Ansel Adams



So for those of you doing the math...the remainder of the photos from the shoot are mistakes, or undesirable in some way, so they are deleted.

Lastly, I'd like to leave you with one of my favorite "clean" jokes. I imagine my Sugar would very easily share this little girl's assumption.

A little girl walked to and from school daily. Though the weather that morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her daily trek to the elementary school. As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up and it started to thunder and lightning. The mother of the little girl felt concerned that her daughter would be frightened as she walked home from school and she herself feared that the electrical storm might harm her child.

Although it hadn't begun to rain, thunder and lightning began cutting through the sky. Full of concern, the mother quickly got into her car and drove along the route to her child's school. As she did so, she saw her little girl walking along, but at each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up and smile. Another and another were to follow quickly and with each the little girl would look at the streak of light and smile. When the mother's car drew up beside the child she lowered the window and called to her, "What are you doing? Why do you keep stopping?"

The child answered, "I stop and smile because God keeps taking my picture."

9 Live It or Love It:

mrsmouthy said...

I'm glad I'm not the only crazy lady out there making clicking noises and sometimes farting noises while pointing a camera at my precariously balanced child! I just wish mine hadn't turned against me and my camera a couple months ago. :(

Becky said...

I love the bloopers! Those are my favorite type of pictures.

Veggie Mom said...

Lovely...and I think I remember this post, too. Could it be that I've been a fan of yours for THAT long? BTW, wanted to remind you that today is Uncle Lynn's birthday, and I'm running a one-day POPrs giveaway to celebrate. Please come by!

Gayle said...

The bloopers are my keepers and are the ones I would hang on the wall.

Christina said...

YEAH! A great post Corey, and certainly worthy of a second look. The "what camera do you have" questions can be quite frustrating.

Oh, and how cute was little SB?!

Mama Zen said...

The Jack London story captured your meaning perfectly.

david mcmahon said...

Big thumbs-up to this post, Corey. I didn't see it the first time around.

Love the last line, especially.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

What a fabulous post! And you have such a terrific way of communicating your craft...which btw is awe inspiring! Congrats on POTD!

Cheffie-Mom said...

Wonderful photos! Congratulations on the Post of the Day Award!

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