Were it not for the amount of information available about photography, many photographers would be satisfied with just the primordial instruction “shoot with the sun at your back.”
Just think, Kodak had to decide almost a century ago what the most important bit of data was that they should include with their film. That information turned out to be what one needed to do to get an acceptable picture under varied lighting conditions. They knew that once a good exposure was obtained, other elements of a good picture would follow.
It’s still true. Today’s consumer cameras handle that aspect of taking pictures, as well as other things like “in camera fill flash” that eliminates black eye sockets while reducing “red eye.” Some photographers don’t even notice those problems , while others seek to discover the basic cause of each.
The ones that are curious enough to look for an explanation are on their way to becoming something more than a nap-shooter. When a new photographer begins to earn praise for taking pictures that the family members want to enlarge and frame, it’s because he/she has learned some basics of photography.
Each photographer quickly learns that advancing to higher achievement levels means learning through higher education, i.e. learning from the experience of others. The broad range of the medium sweeps from very technical to very creative, and appeals to people on both ends of the spectrum.
Having a passion for photography, in most instances, means having a photographic memory of everything learned from a magazine, a text book, or a class in photography. Also, an insatiable curiosity about such things as impact, lighting, composition, and presentation helps a photographer to become a better craftsman, because it leads to the knowledge that produces better pictures.
The resulting satisfaction of creating fine art pictures can sometimes be euphoric. Ansel Adams once said, “The negative is everything, the print is all. The negative is the sheet music and the print is the symphony.”
Nowadays, Vincent Versace says “The quality of the file determines the quality of the print. And the print is all. You don’t walk around with a monitor under your arm, showing people your work, or give away cameras so people can look at what you shot on the LCD. You give or sell them a print – the symphony that they see with their eyes.” If you want to learn how to improve your photography, take a good look at yourself in the mirror. What you see is what you have to work on.
Your ability to create a picture of what inspired you to click the shutter is paramount. The basic tools to do that are more available now than ever before. You just have to acquire them, and you have to learn how to use them.
Then you can develop your own capability to produce your “symphony.”