Taking or Making
There is a giant chasm between the taking and making of an image. This notion is what sets apart the amateur from the professional in my mind.
Anyone in today’s world can take a picture or a video clip. You point the camera, hit a button and see what the processor pulls up for you. The art (for lack of a better word) of taking a photo is being in the right place, at the right time, and getting lucky.
Making an image is an entirely different experience. Making a photo requires skill, knowledge, and the experience of knowing what you want from a set up before you even put the viewfinder up to your eye. The art of making pictures takes a lifetime to master.
Why Be a Maker?
A person who makes photographs has the power to manipulate the viewer. They are able to craft an image from a subject by dissecting the various parameters that accompany a scene or set up. There are so many factors to making an image. Discovering the power of each of those factors and what it takes to manipulate them is the thrill of learning picture making. Once you master the techniques you become the processor who decides what and how something should look. Photography becomes an action as opposed to a reaction.
A maker can work in any light with any tools. They don’t need a specific camera with a specific lens in a specific light. Working as a professional means creating a mood where it did not exist before. It is the job of the photographer or cinematographer to transform the viewer into the world of their choosing. To do that one has to possess a variety of skills. The latest tech tool or gadget can’t orient a subject or light a scene. You need skill and knowledge to to that.
Knowing Your Tools
Every one spouts off about the 10,000 photo idea and while it is true that you may be a better image taker after 10,000 photos you may not necessarily be a better maker. The maker has to study the technical to assist the artistic components. You have to know how you can manipulate an image in order to develop and find your own style.
There are people who say that it isn’t about the gear it is about the art. Well that is true if you already know about the gear and what it does. If you don’t know what the gear does, how it can be used, and more importantly why & when to use it then you are limiting your skill set as an image maker.
I say start by becoming a maker. Turn your camera to manual. Learn the in and outs. Will your photos be better? No. Not at first. Over time you will get a more thorough understanding of all the complicated pieces to the image making puzzle and only then will you start to see the benefits of making images.
Find Your Tool
My Leica M240 is a great tool for making images. Yes, you can set dslrs to be fully manual but you end up scrolling through screen after screen to change settings. It takes away from being able to spot a composition, quickly change the shutter, adjust the aperture to your choosing, and snap. The M makes these things simple. It makes the process enjoyable which leads me to want to do it more often.
Learn The Craft
The only way to get better at it is to go out, make some images with a goal in mind, then take a look at the results and assess the results. Don’t worry if they are no good.
Did you get what you had in your head before you went out? That is what you want. Because sooner or later the more you expose yourself to good imagery, the more that style will stick with you. Then you need to know how to reproduce that image in your head so you can share the idea with others.
What Are You?
Are you an image maker? Are you familiar with all the tools and the capabilities of your equipment? How do you challenge yourself to create better photos?