As photographers we are yelled at endlessly about the technical aspects of using the little box of magic to capture the scene that is laid out before you. The resulting image will be technically great but what takes it from being a sharp rendition of a particularly well lit turnip to a masterful expression of mood and emotion? You and what of you you convey to the image – that’s what.
So how can I sit here and espouse a seemingly simple solution to a problem yet thousands of websites and books force feed you the superiority of a technical solution to achieve brilliance? Because I fell out of the technical trap and discovered the thing that has been missing from my work. Its not simple – it actually far harder than trotting out a manual and following the bouncing ball to photographic brilliance.
Now I am not suggesting that you forget all the technical details of photography, for they are the tools you need to express the feel you want for the image, I am simply suggesting that technical skill is the vehicle for expressing what your eyes, heart and soul see in a scene. Over the last week I shot the same site twice, a building. First pass was to capture the broad overview of the building, the second was to get the detail. In the intervening period between the two shoots several things changed in my life and it showed in my images. The first set were clinical and simply executed and the second moody and brooding, a perfect reflect of my mood on the days. Technically the same but the feeling and spirit I brought to the day obviously changed the way I saw and executed the scenes. So how do you bottle this mood that you want to bring along to a shoot so you can swallow it and instantly transported to the place and feeling that you want to bring to you shots?
You can’t, but you can set up a series of inputs or experiences that you immerse yourself in to take you to that place. If you want an edgy, fighting for your life feel, try to tame a hungry lion while covered in bacon, or to get that technical, unemotional feel you could try spending time with your tax accountant or, and this is my most inspired ( and commonly reoccurring theme in my posts), go get loved and love a muse that will drag you emotionally through the range of emotional highs and lows that will drive you to betterment. The trick is to swim in that lovely pool of creative desire and recognise how it takes you to that other place, the place where what comes through your lens expresses your soul.
So drop the technical manual and out and pick a muse instead – its a far better investment of your time and you will be amazed at what it will do to and for you.