I only made one picture yesterday. This is it.
That isn’t to say that I didn’t work the scene a little. I always do. I don’t “spray and pray.” And, I don’t make more pictures than I need to in order to capture what I’m after. I’m a fairly efficient and economic photographer. I believe that comes from my film days. Back then it cost a lot of money to take pictures. You had to learn the film and how it would respond in different lighting situations.
People with digital cameras just keep pushing the button hoping to get a picture that they like. After all, once you’ve invested in a camera, some SD cards and a computer, taking pictures is free. When I first converted to digital work, I found myself over shooting a lot. Because – wow — pictures were free to take.
Then I retreated back into my older way of working. Fewer exposures usually yield better pictures.
I read somewhere that people are producing something like two billion pictures a day. Or, is that an hour?
Why? What for?
Go to any of the free sharing sites like Flickr. You’ll see way too many pictures of the same thing. That’s just from one photographer. If that person happens to hit upon a certain style you’ll see multiple derivatives of the same picture. It gets to the point where all pictures in a certain genre look alike. Think about that gauzy flowing water. Could be a river. Could be a sea. When I first saw it, I thought, “how cool.” Now, I’m amazed that it’s still a thing. Same thing with filters. Every Manny, Moe and Jack filters their pictures up without knowing why they are doing it.
This post is not a rant. It’s a backwards, sideways explanation of what I do now. At least for this point in time. This picture doesn’t look like anything that I’ve seen. That’s my intent. When it comes down to it, this is a backlighted picture of what’s left of fall colors.
But, as I moved the lens around I saw the sunburst. It’s a tricky exposure because you want some detail in the shadows, but for the straight master image you want the burst to be nothing but white — a specular highlight. Once you start messing with it in post production, you can fill it in with slightly lighter colors and shapes.
This little discussion brings up another topic.
There seems to be a huge business of photographers selling to other photographers. They sell technique. They set themselves up as experts. I came across one — a food photographer — who makes a good part of his living conducting workshops. After watching his promo video, I knew exactly what he was doing. In two-and-a-half minutes. One very large softbox the top. Another from the side or back. He says very quietly, that the student has access to a stylist and chef. All of the students — six of them — are grouped like a bunch of photojournalists at a press conference. They all take the same picture. The food photographer/teacher critiques their work.
I suppose that’s fine. He makes about $3,000 a day for this. And, the students go home with their newly learned knowledge. To try to duplicate what they just learned.
They don’t have his studio. They don’t have his light. They don’t have his stylist. And, they don’t have his chef. Worse, he’s kind of a one trick pony. His lighting is always the same. He doesn’t actually style the food himself. On the other hand, he’s been shooting food pictures for 18 years. He has some pretty good local and regional credits.
Which is better than most of the travel photography teachers who have taken one of those “the top ten photo hacks that you can learn in ten minutes online workshops,” gone on a trip with their significant other and took pictures of each other in some far away place. I read one of their blogs. The photographer/writer/teacher was amazed about where the sun rose and set. How the hell do you not know that?
And, so on…
Where does leave me? I think that it’s my turn. At least I’m the real deal. I’ve done this for forty years or so. I’ve worked for major clients — corporate, advertising and editorial. I know how to make my picture and their picture. You know, the picture that art directors dream up without having scouted the region. Oh, and I know many cities like the back of my hand. I’m also pretty sure that I won’t have photographers shooting in a group or filtering their images just because they can. They’ll actually make pictures that matter. Maybe not many. But, they’ll have learned what it takes.
I have no idea where, when or how I want to do it. But, I’ll figure that out. Sheesh, I could it in New Orleans. We are always on the top of every travel destination list. We are interesting. Or, it could be Brooklyn. Or, New Mexico. Or, Hong Kong. Oooooh. That sounds fun.