7 habits of highly effective photographers
“Is this photo ‘photoshopped’ ?” was the first question many of my friends oppugned me when they first saw some of my images. It bothers every (ethical) photographer many times. At times, the photographer just sighs at the ignorance of the people asking such questions and maintains silence with a smile not intending to get into arguments.
I have been pondering about “getting the best image straight out of my camera” thing for at least two years now and here is my attempt to articulate my thoughts.
Let’s face it. In digital world, we all have to use some software to ‘convert’ the images that we shoot as ‘data’ to a web/printer presentable ‘image’. For me, it just stops there. Talking in detail about ethics is out of the scope of this article and hence will stop it here.
It’s another day into the wild…
Whilst I savor the beauty of nature, indulge in making images, ‘improve’ my skills, enjoy creativity, in the hindsight – I sit across my desk to jot down my thoughts about getting best out of my camera – ON FIELD. Here are few random thoughts about how to get it right.
I call them the – 7 habits of highly effective photographers (yes inspired by Stephen R Covey!)
1) Expose ‘right’. Understand light. Make right exposures. Take my word – its very basic and easiest thing to achieve, yet, extremely difficult to execute it on field many times.
2) Fine-tune your compositions. Compose, compose, and compose. Right! Compose on the field not in your dark room. A bit of cropping is fine – but draw a line. Maximum of 5%! That means you don’t have much room here if you intend to ‘hang’ the scene you just witnessed, on the wall. Remember this equation – always.
3) Get Distracted. Include or Eliminate distraction on the field. Include? Yes! That’s composition again!! At times, a distraction leads the eyes to the crux of the image. It doesn’t work always. Exercise caution!
4) Be consistent. Practice, practice and practice. It’s a state of mind that comes by training, patience, perseverance and preventing oneself from not trying!
Even the best photographer in the world will not get it right the very first time and every time. Not every image works for all and definitely not every image can be an award winner. Just enjoy the entire process of ‘being in control’ of the situation than striving for THAT ‘perfect image’. After all we make images for our own happiness and most importantly it’s the passion that drives us.
5) Know your favorite place, subject, scout the place and go back again. Make more visits to the same place to make different images than visiting all the places just once which results in repetitive images.
6) Copy from others, but…. It’s the nature of human mind to COPY. Don’t abstain from it and don’t be afraid to experiment. Copy the technicalities not the art! Like DNA, the Art is unique. Cultivate the habit of acknowledging the artist from whom you copied ( learnt!) the technicalities.
Get the images critiqued. Rejection is always the first step towards success and shouldn’t be considered as a hindrance. It’s just a phase and our subconscious will eventually get rid of it.
First it copies then craves and finally creates! So don’t rush, just relax and observe the process as an outsider.
7) Pre-visualize your frames. Originality comes over time. Some are gifted, no doubt! Striving towards it will definitely get you different images. Human brain is extremely flexible but at times it’s extremely rigid too. There is always a war between your right and left-brain and left always wins (at least most of the time)! The transition comes at a cost – time, effort, energy and most importantly the intent to cross over!
Now the question is – Can I do all the 7 steps in 1/1000s? Answer is yes! Microprocessor in your head is multithreaded, timeshared and clocks faster than the fastest thing in the universe. It adapts only when you train it.
Back to the very first question. Photoshop is required and post processing will be efficient only when applied on the image that is being created using the above 7 steps (in my perception). And it’s just a 5 minutes job as compared to the process of ‘image creation’ itself! By the way, Photo art is altogether a different ball game and I respect the photo artists who work exclusively using the software – again talking about it in detail is out of the scope of this article.
Finally, there are hundreds of images in my hard drive. No one needs them, except me and the person who appreciates and enjoys the beauty of RAW nature, wilderness and creation. I strive towards implementing all the 7 habits religiously till I get the best images straight out of the camera. And am still striving towards it, as I write this…
As I sit back and re-iterate my thoughts – am already thinking about the eighth habit – searching for an answer to the most important question –
“Is this my signature?”
If you have any feedback/thoughts on this article, feel free to write to me