Connect with your photograph

I thought now would be a great time to share with you a short excerpt from our epic photography introduction. I cover the mechanics and thought process behind advanced photography, and provide tips to set you on the right path. 

The first excerpt is from the second chapter, The Human Element.

Connect with your photograph

We've heard the phrase “A picture speaks a thousand words” many times before, but how much thought do we actually put into what we are saying with those thousand words? When we take a photo of a person are we saying “this is what this person looks like”, or “this is who this person is”? When we capture a picture of a landscape or city are we merely describing the scene as we see it, or telling a story about the experience of being there? Pictures describe, explain, and record the places, people and events they hold. They freeze a moment in time and are presented for others to witness. Taken further, a picture can evoke emotion, intrigue, and tell a story; connecting the viewer to the photograph and allowing them to experience something special. 

When we take a snapshot, we record an instant of what we saw with our eyes, capturing only a fraction of the experience. That instant makes up only a small portion of the entire experience we intended to capture. What about the temperature, the mood and movement in the scene? How did we feel at the moment we took the snapshot, and what was it about the scene that made us reach for the camera? By considering these questions we begin to form a connection with the photograph we are about to make. It gains importance, and a story.  From that moment, this snapshot starts to become a photograph. 

Subconsciously we already have the answers to these questions. Something made us want to record that one moment. Perhaps it was the warm feeling of witnessing a majestic sunset over the ocean signalling a perfect close to the day. Maybe it was quite the opposite and you wanted to capture something that concerned you so much it had to be recorded. What ever the subject, there was emotion and reason behind it. Somewhere in the back of your mind is a story.

When instantly reaching for the camera and snapping a photograph with little thought we leave this story in our subconscious, and rarely, unless by a stroke of luck, does that story make it into the image. It is by slowing down the process that we give ourselves the time to find this connection which in turn guides our decisions, leads the camera, and infuses the photograph with story, emotion, and intent. We take those thousand words and give them depth and meaning. 

The highly technical world in which we live poses the greatest barrier to truly inspiring photography. Instead of turning to artistic method and basic techniques, we have grown to believe that technical capability and superior automation is all we need to produce a great photograph. After over 20 years of major advances in photographic technology, what once was difficult to master with film has become easy. Every day snapshots now surpass the quality and technical excellence that once hung in museums and galleries. As a result, to separate ones self from the masses and truely inspire we must go far beyond that of a technically excellent photograph. What a photographer needs is a greater understanding of the art of seeing and vision, combined with a greater awareness of emotion and story. 

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