As my friends know, I am somewhat obsessed with taking photos. This made me think how far photography has advanced since my father’s time behind our house in New Jersey.
When I retired, I knew that I would need something to keep me busy and out of trouble, so I bought a new camera and took up photography. Photography was not new to me as my dad had a small studio behind the house. It also served as a darkroom where we developed and colorized photos. So that is where my interest came from.
With technological advances of cameras, lenses, and computer software the art of photography has shifted somewhat in the direction of editing software and a good editor can create a masterpiece out of a photo that is just OK. I often do this and come up with creations that were not possible 50 years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, a photographer still needs a good eye as he/she practices their art. Ansel Adams had a great eye and produced photographs with old technology that told a story and stimulated the imagination of everyone who saw them.
There is no bad photograph, in my opinion, because the photographer/ artist saw something that stimulated his/her imagination. That is exactly why I never and you should never criticize a photograph. It may not appeal to your sense of artistry, but it is art regardless of what you think. Criticizing would be like criticizing Picasso because you do not like abstracts. The photographer saw something that maybe you are not seeing and that is what makes it art.
Editing photos through computer software is an art as I said above. There is a danger and I have fallen into that trap of editing too much and forgetting that the original photo told a story and was an outstanding photo all by itself. So I am more careful now and always make sure I keep the original and go back to it often.
I am not Ansel Adams and not Kim Jew who is a local famous for photographs taken around the world. Each photographer is an artist that creates through observation and imagination.
If I have a client, I try to capture what the client wants. When I take photos for pleasure I shoot and let my imagination take over. In the Southwest that is easy because we have history at every turn of the corner, and it is a history that I grew up with while watching westerns as a young boy in New Jersey.
I am an observer and I find myself looking for shots when I drive around the city. If I have my camera, which I usually do, I will stop and start shooting what I saw. At the zoo, I will sometimes stand in front of the Great Ape habitats for hours to get what I call “the shot”.
Photography today is not my father’s photography of yesterday when you either developed your own photos or waited days to see what you have. Today we get instant feedback and are not limited to 12 or 15 shots on a roll of film.
Photography will continue to advance technologically in every aspect; cameras, lenses, and computer editing software. But there will never be a technological advance that can replace a good eye and the imagination of the photographer/artist.
When you hear someone say, “he has a nice camera that takes great photos”, remind them that it is the photographer that takes the photos, not the camera.
Keep observing and imagining and keep shooting those photos to satisfy your inner artist.