Sunday, June 6, 2010

Photography 101

Giant Swallowtail

A photographer went to a dinner party;
afterwards she showed some of her photographs.
"Wow," said the host. "These are beautiful pictures. You must have a really nice camera." "Thank you," said the photographer.
"Dinner was delicious. You must have some really nice pots and pans."

A truly gifted photographer friend of mine by the name of Diane Schuller posted the above quote on her Facebook. She was sharing this quote compliments of her friend Robyn Russell, who I do not know. (There....all credits and links accounted for!) This quote has stuck with me and I had to share it with YOU!

Yesterday, doing backups to my stand-alone hard drive I ran across some of my first digital images. At the time, years ago, I had "borrowed" ("stolen" is really too harsh a word...) my husband's Sony Cybershot 5.0 megapixel camera. Digital was "beneath me" then but the Sony changed my mind. Old story - you've heard it here before. The Sony became an extension of my body. Most of my favorite images ever shot were through its lens.

Recently, my daughter commented on my Gazania photos, saying "...if ONLY I had a nice camera like YOURS I could take nice photos, TOO!" She is the proud owner of a really, really nice brand spanking new SWEET Canon Powershot. ...she wanted a Rebel, you see.

Dear Daughter: It's not the camera, babe. It's the passion, the vision, the desire, the absolute NEED to capture images that matters. Photography is one's life and breath. What it's NOT is ten thousand pictures of one's self on Facebook and wherever. You know the look - everyone does it - it's not unique - arm stretched up over one's head, shooting down into one's seductively smiling or angst driven or emo-garbed face, yada, yada, yada .... yawn. It's learning one's equipment and practicing, pushing to learn even more about the art of photography. You become one with the medium. You have a fantastic camera - let's see what you can do with it.

My passion for photography reemerged with the Sony Cybershot while trying to take one decent photo of a Giant Swallowtail. The butterfly had just landed after migrating a long distance. Slowly following him, capturing image after image, shooting high and low, lying on my belly and enduring the hated shutter delay of earlier digital camera models...and then finally being rewarded with a good shot. The high of that experience carried me forward into a brand new day.

Earn the Rebel, babe. Earn it. I love you.


Bo Mackison said...

Heee heee heee! Yes, it MUST be the pots and pans!

Love this post, Debi. Love it, love it, love it.

Couldn't have summed up my feelings better. Maybe we get a bit high and mighty, but darn it - after taking 1000+ shots most weeks, spending hours on the ground, crawling through bushes, under plants, waiting for the light or the wind to die down, or going back for a piece of WAX paper to use as a diffuser for gosh sakes...and then finding one image out of 200 that I love, and seeing if I can take it one step higher using Lightroom...oh, well, then I smile and nod sweetly when someone comes up and says "lucky shot."

I love that you love your daughter enough to want her to earn it. Yep, real love.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

I love the post too, but I also take the opposing view; I'm a gardener, a writer, and a person who makes photos but without my cameras (which are smarter/faster than me), I wouldn't get as many neat photos as I do. There could be many more, but I DON'T have the time to do all the hard work to be only a photographer; so I always stress to people that I'm a writer who takes photos, not so much a photographer. Because I still get stumped with some of the settings, get boggled by the mathishness of shutter speed and aperture settings, I experiment with them when I have time, but mostly I ask the camera to cope with my stupidity and put it on 'P' or even automatic. I do, however, learn a great deal from studying the work of others who are photographers, like you. And I gigglesnorted uncontrollably over the facebookesque images, which also bore the stuffing out of me. :-)

Blessing Counter said...

Beautiful, beautiful! Love this post! I have not earned it yet...oh, but I am trying...I am studying...I am learning my camera inside and are my role model!! Love you!!

Eve said...

True!! It's not the camera! Work at it and learn the hard's much more fun. Someday you'll have the camera of your dreams but you really must earn it!

Gaelyn said...

Since I was a kid I've taken photos, starting with a Brownie Box. OMG, does that date me or what. All the years saying I was a "vacation photographer." Then several years ago, I decided I Am A Photographer. It's just that no one has paid me, yet. Good advice. It is a passion.

Gaelyn said...

Oh yea, I really despise those arm length self portraits. I'm always taking pics of visitors. And after the "boring" two people standing in front of the canyon I ask them to do something silly and fun and click off several more shots.

Anonymous said...

Love this post, Debi -- it's not the camera. It's the ability to SEE. A book your daughter might enjoy -- or anyone who enjoys photography, for that matter: "Photography and the Art of Seeing" by Freeman Patterson. ( It was one of the first books on photography that I ever purchased, and I ended up buying his whole series. He's an amazing artist with wonderful vision and philosophy about the natural world around us.

Julie Magers Soulen said...

OMG! I love this post! I'm going to post it on FB and tweet it to the heavens! Thanks for writing it.

Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Great post! I fell in love with photography with my first digital which also happened to be a Sony. It is thrilling to me to be able to capture a great shot. There is still so much I need to learn about photography. I'm hoping to take another class if life ever gets back to normal.

Jennifer said...

I love this post as well. As someone who's new to photography, I also envy the fancy camera's. I am settling with my current Fuji Finepix S1500, though, and am trying to learn how it works. I'm taking tons of photos, some of them turn out well, some not so much, but I also realize that it's more about the passion, and practice than anything else. It will come with time.


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