NO, the title is not mine – I am not the one to teach others how to make great photographs. Bus as one who is interested in making good and candid photography, I find the flowing article simply outstanding.
I came across this photographer with a sharp and rather unusual view on photography – finally somebody telling me what I always felt and somehow knew… Today when photography is becoming one of the most creative and popular ways of expression oneself, people want to know the all possible tricks and gain some special technical know-how. Let’s see what a master says:
How to make great photographs
Your camera has NOTHING to do with making great photos. You have to master technique of course, but that’s just a burden to get out of the way to free yourself to tackle the really hard part. The hard part is saying something with your images.
Photography is art. It’s abstract. Therefore it’s difficult for many people to grasp. It’s easy and lazy to think a camera makes the photos. It’s easy to blame bad photos on a camera. When you get better you’ll realize you would have been better off to pay more attention to your images and less to your camera.
You can’t be on a schedule. You have to go out, look around and wait for the light and inspiration.
Many great shots are made only after years of observing a subject, learning when it looks best, and returning to photograph it at its most spectacular. This is how real photographers make anything look extraordinary.
If you’re traveling with non-photographers you’re going to have to get your schedules straight, since you’ll be out shooting while normal people are eating dinner or still sleeping in the morning.
Brilliance doesn’t work on a schedule.
KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN
“Compositon is the strongest way of seeing.” Edward Weston.
You see more if you’re looking. The more you look, the more you see worth photographing. If you’re not looking you’ll walk right past some of the most extraordinary opportunities.
Creation is a solitary act. I can’t create photos if I’m being distracted, watched or asked questions. I need to get out on my own and concentrate.
It’s OK to go out and photograph as a group. You do have to split up and shoot on your own once you get there. Otherwise everyone in the group winds up with identical mediocre shots. Split up and see what you see, then meet up at the end for some socializing.
Photography is communicating passion and sparking excitement in the mind and body of another person. If you don’t care about the subject then the results won’t get beyond the basics. Care deeply and incredible things happen. Don’t care and you are quickly forgotten.
“If I feel something strongly, I make a photograph. I do not attempt to explain the feeling.” Ansel Adams.
Photography is the art of communicating passion. You need to be passionate about whatever it is that you photograph. If you are passionate you’ll get great results, if you don’t care, you won’t.
A photograph is not about technique. A photograph is communicating something, be it an idea, concept, feeling, thought or whatever, to a total stranger. For a photograph to be effective you have to be clear with what you’re communicating.
A good photographer makes great images with a disposable camera because she knows its limits and how to use it. On the other hand, plenty of poor photographs are made every day using very expensive cameras by people lacking passion and vision, regardless of how much technical skill they have and how sharp their lenses are.
People write novels, not typewriters. So why do some people think buying a different camera or learning all about shutter speeds will help them make better images? People make photographs, not cameras. Your choice of camera has NOTHING to do with anything. NOTHING.
Go take art, painting, drawing, and design classes at your local community college. Learn to see. You may want to start by reading the books I suggest about art and composition. I never took any photo classes. Everyone learns differently; I learn by reading and doing and seeing.
The photographers whose work I admire most often are former painters or at least people who majored in art; not people with computer, engineering, science or technical photography degrees.
Ask artists for help when you are starting. Ask them how to see and show them your images and ask for suggestions. They will see things that you haven’t yet, and will help open your eyes to making better images.
Avoid the friend, neighbor or co-worker who works in computers, science or engineering and always talks about cameras. These people’s passion is usually just for the cameras or computers themselves, not about photography itself or art or expressing their imagination visually. Watch out for people who prefer to talk about tools instead of actually making photos. There are thousands of people who watch sports on TV and can talk endlessly about sports stats for every one athlete who actually plays professional sports. You want to talk to the rare guy who actually does it.
THERE ARE NO RULES
There is no right and no wrong. The rule of thirds is not a rule and rules are for idiots. Just go make good photos. A good photo is one you or someone else likes. There are no formulas or grades or scores.
Only show your very strongest images.
Throw away most of what you shoot. I do. Most of my photos are awful!
Go through the few photos you save out of a roll, and then throw away all but the one strongest image.
Next time, go through the few you’ve saved from a few rolls, and throw more away.
This isn’t painting. In photography it is a requirement to throw away most of what you do.
You’ll see that if you only save or show your strongest images that your body of work will seem to improve. Guess what: as you show only the better images, your body of work as seen by others has improved!
Don’t Think; Just Shoot
(find the full article by Ken Rockwell here)