Here’s a paradox for you: When I go out to photograph nature, landscape and this gorgeous world of ours – I luxuriate in the experience. Every blessed second of it. I feel like I’m standing in the heart of creation, where I can mostly clearly hear the voice of the Divine.
Taken with a Canon 5DIII, 14mm prime lens:
At the same time, I’ve trained myself to move quickly, with assurance. When conditions are gorgeous, I aim to capture as much of it as I can, with as many variations and perspectives as I can come up with. I want each blessed adventure to yield a rich variety of images, from the bolder, wider strokes like the one above… to the intimate, up-close and personal story like the one below. I want each slice that a scene has to offer to tell the full story of joy and delight that I experienced.
I take my time.
And I move as fast as I can.
Both at the same time.
A delightful paradox!
It didn’t happen by accident…
Taken with a Canon 6d, 100mm Macro lens:
How Is This Possible?
I think of this “moving quickly” thing as; moving with delicious speed.
“Delicious”, because I try and always let my heart, muse and sense of awe lead (getting too left-brained is always an epic fail for me). “Speed” because… well, the truth is that the light and conditions change so quickly sometimes it’ll take your breath away. It takes ALOT of preparation to be able to move nimbly, quickly and with some kind of confidence when that happens.
Taken with a Fujifilm X-T1, XF50-140mm lens
What’s the prep? Well First…
Know your camera, your lenses and which thing does the best job for what end result. You can learn that photographing ANYTHING. Get it down, so that it’s second nature. Gear, settings and all that has to live in the background… always ready to be called upon, but not occupying valuable brain and creative bandwidth. Here’s where some myths start brewing…
Myth: The fanciest gear gets the best results. Wrong!
Truth is, knowing how to maximize YOUR camera set up, knowing what it can do best and how to bend it to your vision is way more productive. It’s also how you learn what gear IS best for you, as you progress and move up, honing your creative toolbox. Fancy gear is fun… but it’ll kick your ass if you don’t know what to do with it. In art; gear does not rule vision, it’s the other way around.
know what you love. The colors, light, shapes, patterns, textures, perspectives, framing, elements, the close-mid-wide distances and all the rest that convey your feeling/intent. This helps you sift through the input coming at you when you’re out there. It helps you compose, make choices that matter, position yourself in the time of day and physical location that makes your heart sing… and that lets you tell YOUR story. Working from the inside-out is what embeds and recognizably weaves YOU into your images. Going for the “right” answer according to an outer standard might make you competent (if you’re lucky). Weaving who you are into your work will make you an artist.
Taken with a Fujifilm X-T1, XF10-24mm lens:
Myth: There is some kind of “standard, right answer” to creating the best shot. Wrong! Or maybe right, if what you’re after is to be acceptably good.
Truth is, if you’re going for artistic expression – that is, creating work that is recognizably yours and has a unique point of view and story to tell, then you have to start tuning out (or at least turning the volume down on) the “absolutes” and let your muse whisper in your ear, even if it goes against what you think is “right”.
Ground yourself, focus, breathe, GO. Follow where you get the goose bumps, where you gasp with awe, where you gut hollers YES!
Miss any part of this… and you’ll miss the mark by thaaaat much.
Get it right and just maybe you’ll create something artful – with your own unique stamp embedded within it.
Taken with a Fujifilm X-Pro2
Myth: Starving, suffering for your ‘art’ makes you better. Ummmm… Van Gogh already cut off his ear. What are you gonna do to top that?If you’re suffering, starving, not taking care of yourself along the way… well, you might want to take a look at that.
Truth is, while there may be suffering involved along the way… that’s NOT the goal. That’s not what draws your audience, heals people, enlivens and enlightens others in the long run. Beauty, light and conveying your own spark of divine fire does. You have to be strong – inside and out – to pull that off effectively these days.
The Bottom Line:
PHOTOGRAPHER KNOW THYSELF!
And your gear…
and most of all… know yourself and what you LOVE. Listen to nothing else.
It’s a challenge, I’ll admit… but what high level of ANYTHING isn’t attained without challenges to hone you?
xx – K
Taken with a Fujifilm X-T2, 60mm Macro lens:
Taken with an iPhone: