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The Tool vs The Craft

So last time around, I gave you my opinion on what type of camera you should get based upon your desired outcome. It almost sounded like a deterent from others buying in to DSLR photography. But maybe this post will shed a little light as to why I went that route for most people.

My uncle once told while I was growing up: "It's better to know photography than it is to know your camera. That's the difference between a picture and a photo." He's been doing photography for decades now, so I tend to heed his advice whenever he's willing to give it. What he meant was that if you have a basic understanding of the dynamics of photography, you can use any piece of hardware to capture something meaningful. You don't need a DSLR or even a high end point-and- shoot to get great shots. You can use a modern camera phone (which have really stepped it up the past few years--a later post), a disposable--yes they still exist, an instant polaroid--yes, they still exist too, or even a film based camera--OMG YES, THEY EXIST TOO GEEZ! There are three basic concepts that you absolutely NEED for photography: Lighting, Composition, and Imagination.

Lighting is ALWAYS important. Case in point, stand outside on a sunny day, stand with your back to the sun, and turn on your phone's front facing camera. Now try and take a picture of your face without it being extremely dark and/or shadowy. You'll be there till your phone dies (trust me, I tried). Light will one day get it's own post, but without the right lighting, you'll never get to keep the magic. That's what photography is: the capture of light. Try to keep your subjects camera-lit unless you're going for sillouettes.

Now that you have a well lit subject, you need to understand composition. Composition is to photography as context is to writing. It can give your photography meaning depending on the type of composition. Composition deals with the surroundings of your shot--what's in frame, what's in focus, what's out of focus, what's the point of the shot, where is the subject relative to the frame, and so on. It's best to keep it simple, fill your shot with your subject, and be mindful of your backgrounds. Almost every photographer you come in contact with will tell you that they typically break down there shots into 9 equal sectioned squares--like a tic-tac-toe board. Again, I'll go over this in detail in a later post, but most common picture takers tend to put there subject in the center square. Try experimenting with subjects in different areas and have an interesting background. Oh! And leading lines! (Man, composition really deserves it's own post).


Anywho, finally and the most important: Imagination. It's your own imagination that will set your photos apart from others. Your imagination can turn a picture moment into a photography moment. Remember the basic concepts of lighting and composition to feul your imagination. You know what you CAN do, but take some extra thinking time to think about what you never thought you could. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Most times, mistakes turn out to be the best shots. One of my (maybe all of ours) favorite show growing up was "Reading Rainbow". Even now I'm sure you sang the words a little bit in your head (or aloud if you're as shameless as I). "I can do anything/It's in a book, just take a look/a reading rainbow". The same is for photography. You really can do anything. You can fly, you can become a ghost, you can light up the world. But you have to let your imagination unlock it. Without imagination, you're probably just taking pictures.

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