Since I started back to photography five years ago, I have basically followed the same approach.
I go out often with my camera. I walk around my location, observing what is around me. I immerse myself in my surroundings, try to connect with the environment in which I am photographing, and capture whatever it is I am drawn to.
I take account of the light that’s available and set up the best composition that I can, but for the most part my photography is spontaneous, spur of the moment type photography.
Recently, while watching YouTube videos from professional photographers, I have remarked on how different their approach can be to mine. I have often seen these photographers go to a location where I think I can see many potential images yet they report that they are struggling to get any good compositions. When they eventually find a composition they like they may spend a long time setting it up, often waiting for hours for light to appear or for something to move into the scene that will give it that little something extra.
Obviously, I understand that my standards for my photography are not as high as standards are for professional photographers, but nonetheless I do wonder sometimes if I changed my approach, took less photographs and spent more time on each one, would it improve my photography?
I challenged myself to find out.
It was a dull, windy, morning in late December. On the previous day I had been photographing in the courtyard of the local demesne. I was hoping for a silhouette image of the old chimneys with a bird flying past, but I left without managing to get that.
Today I was going to go there, set up my composition, and wait for a bird to get into position.
I walked straight to my destination, almost without noticing the beautiful moon that was still in the sky, gently slipping away. I was determined to get my photo!
I reached the courtyard, composed my image, and waited.
A few birds flew past, too far away to capture.
I was getting cold but I waited.
Eventually, some birds obliged and flew into position.
I got the images I wanted, and they were nothing special!
I turned around and saw these trees silhouetted against the sky and I enjoyed trying to see what I could capture in much better light.
This was my kind of photography – spontaneous, challenging, fun.
I’m not saying that this is anything like the approach taken by a professional photographer but what I am saying is that if I were to take a more professional approach to photography and focus solely on the image, I may get better photographs, but that approach would also have some disadvantages for me.
I asked the question, should I change my approach to photography ?
I’m answering no for three main reasons.
1. I would miss the spontaneous nature of my own approach, capturing images that appeal to me even though they may not appeal to anyone else.
2. I would miss the ‘non-photography-related’ aspects of my photography outings – the beauty of nature that I notice around me, the feeling of peace and freedom from stress that is part of my outings with my camera, the enjoyment of finding something unique and beautiful and just capturing a moment.
3. By changing my approach to photography I would be putting pressure on myself and raising my expectations for my photography beyond what I may be capable of achieving. In the process, I may lose the enjoyment that I currently derive from my hobby.
In a recent video, photographer Ian Worth speaks about the importance of having an emotional connection to our photography. He suggests that if an image doesn’t resonate with you, if you are creating work with other motives in mind, this can lead to a disconnection that leaves your photos feeling a little soulless.
I agree that having an emotional connection to our work is what’s really important.
If I allow the place, the subject, and the experience to resonate with me I believe I will take a photograph that is more pleasing to me.
My brief consideration of a change of approach to my photography has clarified something in my mind: my emotional connection to my images comes from being spontaneous, photographing what I want to photograph, and from not putting pressure on myself to get the ‘perfect’ image.
I am very happy with my approach to photography, and I intend to continue to improve as much as I can.
More importantly, I intend to continue enjoying my photography, and I’ll leave the pursuit of the 'perfect' images to the professionals.
On my walk home I noticed this reflection in a window and stopped to create some images.
Reflections in a window
Out For a Walk
I had no intention of taking this photograph but as I passed these trees they looked as though they were heading off for a walk.
Check out Ian Worth’s video here.