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Easy to learn photography, but hard to become a good one

in Photography

“The photographer I dream to be must not care if his work was stolen, all he must care is that people see it.”



I am a photographer. Or I should call myself an amateur photographer since I don’t make money out of it. Or I should say I learn photography and hope one day will become a good one, having the dream to become one of the best photographers [sounds arrogant, but you cannot judge the dream, can you?].

I started photography in August 2014. I do not consider myself a very talented, but always like to convince myself that if I continue working hard and do a lot of learning and practicing, and continue loving it too much, then maybe one day I will become a very successful photographer.

But let’s talk about this article I am writing now. What is it? Why am I writing it? Who cares who am I and what I think if I am not famous [ I so much want to put “yet” in this sentence]?And am I allowed to teach somebody photography with such short experience and lack of self-confidence?

The point is that I am not teaching anyone, but myself. This is a crazy talk to myself about what I feel and how I find it difficult to be a good photographer.

Now let me be more serious and talk about photography

When you think about learning photography, first thing comes to mind is having a good camera and learning how to use it: manual mode, ISO, exposure and so on. I started from iPhone, then try many other cameras and end up with Canon 6d with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. What I found is the best option when you are amateur, but want to do pro pictures.

Then you learn Photoshop, which is like a “dark room” for digital photography to process images. You even bought Wacom tablet to ease my work. Words of warning: Photoshop is dangerous. If you master it and as an outcome, you have some beautiful flowers or landscape, you may think you became a good photographer. Let me disappoint you [opinion]. Nice pixels array and photography are different things. Probably “Photoshop masters” should be called “image designers” but not photographers. Don’t get me wrong, I am not judging, and I don’t disrespect the work in Photoshop. As a matter of fact, I am one of them, many of my “successful” images are heavily manipulated in Photoshop. As I answered to the critical feedback to one of my images “my picture is not adjusted in Photoshop, it is created in Photoshop.” And yet today I came to the conclusion that manipulated or nicely designed image and real photography should be different things. And as it appears even if I am relatively successful in nice image making, I want to become a real good photographer.

Now, the question is, what is the photography for me? Of course, there is no easy answer to that. If the photography is the process of capturing the picture, then the question is what kind of picture. The word “capturing” leads to reality, meaning I saw something I record it. And in that case, it should be close to reality as much as possible. Is it also possible that photography is not the fact of recording something you see, but more of sharing what you felt or thought at the moment of seeing something nice or interesting? This is a challenge. How I can present something in this limited two-dimensional space the way that the viewer can feel what I felt or thought.

Consider this example. The photo is taken during the quite heavy raining when I was driving. From many shots, I choose this one with the wiper in the middle and water on the shield. And the reason is that they help feel my challenge as a driver and kind of feel the pressure of the heavy rain. This is not a successful image in the sense of nice looking one or an image “with some deep meaning,” but it passes some emotion to the viewer, it passes the reality of that moment of driving under the rain. And that what I like, the challenge of creating something that people will look at and feel what I felt when I was taking the picture. And this is just one of the challenges of real photography.

Actually, you know what ? this is too macro thinking.

I know you may say this is a crazy writing, but remember this is a talk to myself, I write, I think, I write. Time goes, my thoughts are changing. So if you don’t like it, stop reading.

I am going to define photography for myself as a journey.

Throughout the time I buying more gears:

- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens is cheap, but perfect for portraits

- EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is the very expensive lens, but believe me will change all your experience. After good capture with this lens Photoshop only spoils your image.

- Opteka 650-1300mmhigh definition super telephoto lens, if you want to see who does what on the moon.

- Tripod. If you don’t use it, forget about excellent quality if the light is deemed.

- Mini Tripod, nice toy to do low-level perspective pictures

- Of course, remote shutter. This one I also have great to use for Time-lapse photography, it allows me to schedule recurring shots, let’s say every minute and do 1000 frames, then combine them with an excellent video.

- Flashlight and reflector you were going to need to capture people and not just indoors. Here a helpful advice, use a flashlight on a sunny day, when your camera is facing the sun.

Choosing styles, mastering gears and technique, all these are a little pin-stops in that journey. What is the objective of that voyage? I would say the perfection which doesn’t exist. But the aim is not what drives you, but the process of self-development, which is crazy interesting. How one minor thing can be fascinating subject when you start photography, then it becomes not enjoyable because it is not sharp enough and not attractive. After when you become wiser, you find that same subject appealing again because it has so much meaning that you don’t care much about the quality. Photography is an exciting journey where the most difficult barrier is yourself, your way of thinking and seeing things. Learning technical part of photography is an easy task. Well, I mean relatively easy. 1-2 year of practice and you will know perfectly how to setup your camera or do perfect selection in Photoshop. But what you cannot learn that easy is “what” to photograph. To know “what” to shoot you need to ask questions. Why do you want to photograph it? What is your message? Whom you will show it to and what do you expect as a feedback?

“Wow, what a sunset, beautiful capture! You are so talented. You should check mine ”. For some people, it might be enough. 5000 Instagram or 500px followers will make 500 likes, 350 of which “I like you like back.” That is all you need? Then you are done.

Others do it professionally. “I want you to like it and buy it. If I get money out of it, I don’t give a damn what the picture is about, and I don’t care what you are going to do with it. ”

Something is wrong. This is not what I want to be.

The best photographer, the photographer I dream to become must not care about money, must not care about “sunset for followers.” The photographer I dream must be satisfied by the fact of giving pleasure by showing lovely sunset, satisfied by the fact of sharing information by photographing documentary, satisfied by the fact of forcing the viewer to think by showing abstract images. The photographer I dream to be must not care if his work was stolen, all he must care is that people see it.

I am so far from the best photographer, and my vision is vague and unclear. But the good thing is that I think about it.

Never stop dreaming.

Arman Ayva

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