Abell concise and me ranting
Hello again. It has been a while since my last blog. Things have been rather hectic. But, here I am again back on the trail of discovering how to become a better photographer through the gems of wisdom imparted by some well-known masters of light.
First off, let me thank all of you who visited and liked my Shadow69 Photography on Facebook. Your encouraging remarks are invaluable and help my motivation no end.
I came across a few quotes from Sam Abell which I found to be intriguing. To be honest, I was not familiar with him before, but the fact that he has worked for the National Geographic (to my mind one of the best showcases for exquisite photography) was enough to get me hunting for examples of his work. I was not disappointed. If like me you are not familiar with his body of work, definitely check him out.
It matters little how much equipment we use; it matters much that we be masters of all we do use.
I bought a Canon 5D MkII at the beginning of the year, a few months before the MkIII made its appearance. A friend of mine teased me about it “Aren’t you behind the times a bit?”, “Wow you bought a new camera 4 years after it came out!” Actually, I wouldn’t have bought it at all if something hadn’t gone wrong with my 5D. I am not one of those who make owning the “latest and greatest must have gizmo” an objective in life. In this high speed world where nearly anything you buy is obsolete a month after you plunk down your hard-earned cash for it, I prefer the familiarity and comfort of holding on to the “devil” I know (now isn’t that a comforting thought for my wife). This never ending vicious cycle of craving the latest, biggest, best and billion feature (99% of which will most likely never actually be accessed) packed camera simply bemuses me (ok so I am easily confounded, but at least it helps me save a little money now and then).
But most importantly, this phenomenon only seems to help propagate that pet peeve of anyone who considers him/herself an artist or craftsperson (I am being political correct just in case).
How many times have you gone to a family gathering or walked around on the street with your shiny, big DSLR and telephoto zoom and had people come up to you and remark:
“Wow, that’s a really great looking camera. It must take really great pictures.”
And upon hearing that how many times have you said to yourself
“Must stay calm. Must not unleash the fist of death now. Must not forget to breath.”
Ummm… sorry I forgot to take my fried pelican pills. Feeling much better now.
Because photographers... think things through and... it isn't luck, and it isn't random and it isn't accidental. It isn't.
A mad, keen photographer needs to get out into the world and work and make mistakes.
Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice… did I already mention practice? Oh did I? Ah, but did I say it enough? Don’t think so… practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice...
Weeks later I was watching a series of YouTube videos about photography after having just relegated a whole bunch of shots taken earlier to the virtual dustbin of my computer, and the instructor’s reply came back to haunt me. I was amazed by the ability of photographer in the video to figure out what to do and take quick-fire decisions during the shoot, and was wondering how he knew what he had to do to get the shot just right. Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice… wait for it… even more practice.
Practice, practice, practice… oops sorry, was running on automatic.
Ye Gods, isn’t that one just so familiar? How many times have I arrived home with an invisible hand squeezing and twisting my guts because I had not taken a camera with me and had just seen something that I would have loved to commit to my digital memory storage (which seems to be more reliable than my organic one these days). Doom, despair, gloom, darkness, hopelessness. Ah but old Sam Abell is not so pessimistic… an opportunity missed may not be lost to him forever, but is a promise of a more glorious photograph to come. Amen.
As always, I end with a personal request. Please, if you have enjoyed this blog or like my portfolio, please visit my Facebook page Shadow69 Photography and click on “Like” to show your appreciation and support.
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Photo credits: Abdul Sami Haqqani.