The Common Thread

I’ve said many times that it is important to be enthusiastic and passionate about your photography. It’s also important to understand that the real pursuit is the “art” of photography. It’s not about taking thousands of “snapshots”, but rather, images that can stir your emotions and grab your attention.

The ability to do this is not something that comes naturally to most people. Learning to “see” as a photographer is an ever-evolving process. No matter if you’ve only been into photography for a year or you’ve been doing it for 30 years, you will still be developing your vision and learning new things.

Photography isn’t something you learn by taking a course. It’s not something you get better at by buying a new lens or a high-end camera. It is a process. It is an evolution that occurs over a lifetime of taking photos, learning from your mistakes, building on your experience, and adding to a specialized set of skills.

If you consistently apply all you’ve learned about photographic fundamentals, the digital darkroom, field techniques, and “seeing”, then blend them together with generous portions of creativity, and imagination, you will get better images and see your work improve – guaranteed.

The subject of learning is an important one in photography. And it doesn’t matter if you bought your first camera yesterday, or have been taking pictures for decades. It is something that is shared by all photographers – this never ending process of discovery to get to the next level. It is a common thread that ties beginners to amateurs, amateurs to pros, pros to masters, and masters back to beginners.

This notion that an amateur photographer knows little about capturing great images compared to a pro is false. The pro may be at a higher level than someone with only limited experience, but they are still trying to sort out the way they see, developing their vision as they go, and are always learning new skills. The word “pro” simply means that they have chosen to do that for a living. It doesn’t necessarily imply that they have a greater knowledge or expertise than someone who does it part time.

I work in a field where the term “professional” means more about ethics and standards of practice than it does about being a Phd. There is something to be said for having a willingness to do what most others couldn’t be bothered to do. And there is something to be said for having an attitude of cooperation. This is an ethic that helps to define what a professional is in my field.

In the field of photography these ethics can apply also. One of the things I enjoy most about photography is the camaraderie of enjoying each other’s work, and sharing knowledge. You see, the people I think of as the real pros, are the ones who enjoy and support the efforts of their colleagues, and are so passionate in their pursuit of the art, that they encourage the work of others, regardless of their skill level. Their enthusiasm is contagious. They have a desire to help and a positive vibe about what they love to do.

I have nothing but great admiration for those photogs who sometimes have guest blogs or who post and promote the achievements of their peers. They are not in any kind of competition, and they are not highly secretive about their methods. They are often thrilled about attending workshops put on by their colleagues.

I know there are some of you who might be thinking, “I have to put bread on the table. How can I do that if I give away all my knowledge or promote the work of the competition?” I think the answer is that you are more likely to gain attention to what you do by promoting a spirit of cooperation. It’s all about the law of attraction really.

I follow the work of many highly successful professional photographers who are always more than willing to encourage and help others. They know that learning is the thread that is common to everyone. They also know that everyone has their own special contribution to the art, and that the real skill of photography lies not in the camera at all, but in what’s behind the camera. It’s called vision. And it is something that is unique only to you.

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2 thoughts on “The Common Thread

  1. Inspirational article Doug, thank you for sharing! Love what you have to say about the evolution of vision, and how a good image really comes from the inspiration behind the lens. Keep writing!

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