A couple thoughts today.
I think of photography as a visual language. Like any language it has a grammar, a vocabulary, some rules about syntax, etc. As with speaking or writing, the more you master the forms of the language, the more able you will be to communicate with artistry.
Think of a child – she learns to speak with a limited vocabulary, only one or two tenses of one or two verbs, limited pronouns. With that she can communicate a little more than when she was an infant, but not complex thoughts. How many times have you spoken to a child and thought, as they babbled away, "what are you trying to SAY?"
In the beginning a great many photographers will experience two struggles – the struggle to learn the language, and the struggle to say something meaningful with that language. Working through these two artistic journeys will vastly improve your work. It will give you work that more powerfully resonates with the viewer; images that are alive and ABOUT something, not just OF something.
Second thought, connected to the first. We photographers get a little obsessive about gear and technique. I’m surprised there aren’t little networks of support groups all over the world to help us deal with our neuroses. I was talking to a new photographer recently and sensed her frustration with not knowing it all. Listen, there is no secret masonic handshake you need to know to take great images. You need the basics, the fundamentals of the visual language. But more than that – you need heart. By all means, work on technique – learn the ins-and-outs about histograms and depth of field and whatever little techniquey thing turns your crank – but shoot from the heart. Shoot about things you CARE about.
The internet is glutted with really close pictures of ducks and black and white images of symmetrical staircases. And cats. Give us something you love, care about, are angry about, have something to say about. Give us images that are alive. I’d rather see an image that oozes emotion than one that’s perfectly focussed. And if you have to shoot an entire catalogue of cat images, do it so well that even a dog-person gets tempted to trade in her poodle for a calico. Make us care. The worst reaction you can get is not someone disliking your images, it’s someone not caring, or wondering why you even took the photo.
Another welcome to regulars on Scott Kelby’s blog. I have it on good authority that Scott visits here often and any friend of his is a friend of mine. It’s a bit of a mixed bag here at PixelatedImage:Blog, but you are most welcome. You’ll find my thoughts here, and my portfolio HERE