Creativity lies within each of us. Anyone can learn the technical functions of a camera, it's the unique vision we each have that brings a personal touch to our images. Too often photographers get caught up in the technical aspects of photography wanting to capture the perfect exposure & composition. More important than what aperture we select or which lens we choose, is digging deep down within ourselves and creating the image we see with our heart and our mind. Knowing what it is that we want to communicate in our image will help us to decide the technical details and select the appropriate equipment that will help us to bring our vision to life both in the camera and later in the digital darkroom.
Photographing things we love is a great place to start. If we have a personal involvement with our subjects, our images will improve. Familiarity breeds an understanding of our subjects that allows us to anticipate when the light will fall just right across the scene or the peak of action as a grizzly climbs from the river to the bank and shakes the water from his fur. It's this knowledge that takes us to the next level in our photography. And that knowledge is gained from spending the time learning about and observing our subjects.
Today's cameras are technological wonders; accurately reading the light value and automatically adjusting the white balance to give us most technically perfect image possible however, our cameras are inanimate objects without emotions or a personal connection with our subject. It's up to us to add our own creative touch when deciding which aperture/shutter speed combination best captures the essence of the moment or which lens allows us to include the elements that tell our story.
It's the love of my craft and a deep passion for the subjects I photograph that is the driving force behind my photography. I enjoy the planning and anticipation of visiting a new location to photograph new subjects, deciding which camera, lenses and accessories will help me to realize my vision in the form of images that I can share with others. I love every aspect of the image making process, immersing myself in the sights, scents & sounds of the environment, waiting for the composition that best captures my emotions to reveal itself. It may be the quality of light falling upon my subject that first catches my attention, or the sheer force of a storm that draws me in. Bright colors and patterns may cause me to isolate my subject capturing intimate details within scene rather than that of the overall landscape.
The blossoming image may lend itself best to B&W or other techniques that I will use to finish the image later in the digital darkroom. All these thoughts swirl through my mind just below the surface of consciousness as experience drives me to make decisions to create the images that I see in my minds eye making them uniquely mine. There is nothing like the feel of a camera in my hand, looking at the world through the viewfinder and clicking the shutter. Who doesn't love the sound of the motor drive rapid firing as images are recorded to our compact flash cards. Little snippets of time captured and preserved forever.
Adrenalin courses through my veins as the image in my mind comes into sharp focus. I depress the shutter and begin clicking continuously as each wave crashes against the rocks, the spray is ghostlike in the tumultuous storm. The wind and rain pummels me, nearly knocking me to the ground with its sheer force. I feel more alive than at any other time, knowing that I am capturing the power of the storm, imprinting an image forever on my memory. I can hardly wait to get back to the digital darkroom to finish the image. I already know that I'm going to use the NIK B&W Infrared #2 on this image to convey the power and force of the storm on this monochromatic day. Image making doesn't end with the click of the shutter, the creative finishing touches continue in the digital darkroom where, I can simply remove a color cast to finish an image or I can let my creativity run wild using Photoshop plug-ins like NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0 to bring my images to life.
or OnOne Photoframe Pro 3.0 to add the final creative touches to my images.
I love helping others to achieve their vision through their images as well. It is very rewarding to see the results when everything clicks and the final result is exactly what they were after. I guess that's why I enjoy running the gear desk answering questions from all the NAPP members about which lens, tripod, flash, accessory will best suits their needs. I love teaching at DLWS, Photoshop World, Cruising Through Life as well as leading my own safaris to photograph wildlife not only for the photo opportunities it provides me but also to help others to improve their photography and ignite the passion within.
Photography is all about having fun. Don't sweat the details or agonize over the perfect image. If you follow your passion, the rest will come. And most importantlyâ¦keep smiling!