How many times have you heard someone say,
Takoda (my dog)© Copyright David Simchock A gazillion times? More than that?
I understand where folks are coming from when they say this, but it isn’t exactly the best way to approach photography if you are truly passionate about the craft, or you at least want to get the most out of the fancy digital camera that cost you a paycheck or ten. Creating great photos, and doing it on a consistent basis, should not require a whole lot of luck. It should be done with skill, and with intent.
A wise man once said, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”
This is quite a profound quote, and it is totally relevant to photography (even though I highly doubt that Seneca had a Nikon or Canon DSLR in mind when he said it).
If all you are doing with your camera is cranking off a ton of shots on fully-automatic settings (also known as "spraying and praying"), with hopes that one of them is a winner, then you are relying to much on Lady Luck, and not enough on your own creative technique, not to mention the full potential of your gear. Wouldn’t it be nice to take only half of those shots, or even a quarter of them (or less), and still get that one great one – or, better yet, more than one – to show your friends?
Wouldn’t it be nice if when someone asked you “how” you created that great shot, you could actually explain how you set up your aperture, shutter speed and ISO, auto-focus, your lens, and your accessories? How about if you could relate your right-brain thought process as to how you came up with the composition of the frame? Wouldn’t that be the sign of a truly great photograph, created by a truly great photographer?
You will not achieve greatness if you are playing the numbers game, and simply hoping for the best. Greatness will come from taking a “holistic” approach to photography. Does high-end gear help? Sure it does, but it’s not the only thing you need! You also need to know how to use the gear, including all of those confusing buttons, dials and menu options. And, your gear isn't limited to your camera. lenses, and accessories -- you also need to know how to use your computer and editing software. Is that enough? Nope! You need to understand the fundamentals of composition as well.
Are we there yet?
Not quite. Even if you have your act together with your gear, technical knowledge, and composition, you need to understand . For, there is nothing more fundamental in photography than light.
If you integrate all of those facets of the craft together, and shoot with total intention, then you won’t need to use the shot-gun approach. In fact, if you’re really good, you won’t be surprised with how impressive your results are. Through your intention, you’ll know before you even click the shutter that you are on the path to greatness.
Of course, such command of your technique comes with time. Just because your favorite camera manufacturer wants you to believe that you can take their product out of the box and start your career with National Geographic doesn't mean that it's easy (it's not, trust me!). In fact, like anything else in life, it takes dedication and patience. It takes a focus on intention.
Oh, and sure, a little “luck of the moment” is always nice, but as Seneca suggests, what good is being within that moment if you are not prepared for it?
A competent photographer will always be prepared, and they will get the shot, even if they capture only a single frame.
Are you interested in becoming a great photographer, instead of just a "good" one? You don't have to go it alone.
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