Sunday, 1 February 2015

Putting The Fun Back Into Photography

(for those who found the deep, serious end and are stuck in a drought of interest)

So what’s the point about this article?

+Charles Strebor originally teased me about writing an article on Frivolous Photography – I’m turning it into a call-to-arms for those whose poor cameras languish on the pedestal of loneliness.

Who this is for

I’m using the mythical You for simplicity. If this is not you, rejoice. Try to help the sufferers amongst us.

You own a Nikon D800 / Canon 5D3 / Leica M9. And the Holy Trinity of Lenses. Trouble is, the gear is sitting at home in the temperature and humidity controlled cabinet. Well, maybe that’s an over dramatization. Alternatively, you could as well be the owner of that nice interchangeable lens camera body with two lenses. You bought that for the once in a lifetime vacation to South America / Europe / Asia. Except that it’s still sitting at home in a camera bag.
When was the last time you brought out the gear into the open. No, not into the lounge fondle fest, but out in the open, doing its thing, clicking the shutter, capturing images? Three months? Two months? Too long? When are you going to next use it? So and so’s wedding next year? When you’ll be the wedding uncle with the camera?

Six Ways you can get the Fun back

1. Make or break your genre

Most people prefer to take photos in a particular genre. Travel, landscape scenery, architecture, the portraiture – categories like that. If you are still excited by your chosen genre, make some effort to shoot more. If your interest is waning, break out of your comfortable sofa and embrace the world. Open your eyes, look at all things not just the 9 to 5. There are heaps of things to take a photo of. There’s beauty in many things.
Cables | Shoes | Things that look like Faces | Things that Steam – And there are heaps others

2. Reduce the amount of gear you go out with

I see lots of people go out with heavily padded camera backpacks, filled with gear when they go for a formal photo walk. Soon, every walk becomes a formal walk. There are no casual, grab-the-camera-get-out-the-door occasions anymore. And that’s the issue. Real, formal, pack-your-bag photo sessions happen as infrequently as once in three months for many people.
There are more far more frequent happenings every day or every week as the world around you changes, as the people around you mature. That joie-de-vivre is worthy of capturing.

3. If necessary, buy cheaper / smaller / weather resistant gear

One thing I hear people say is “oh, I wouldn’t take my camera to __________” (fill in the blanks). That’s a signal that they have bought gear that is too precious. It does not have to be outrageously expensive – each one of us has a different definition to the minimum value for gear to be precious. And they’re afraid of the harm that will come to the gear so they don’t carry it out and use it.
Many brands and models try to resolve this Strawman Fallacy – if we postulate that the gear is too big, we can sell you smaller gear. If we say that your gear is not weather resistant enough, we can sell you a camera that can take the sea and the beaches without breaking. And make big money selling supplemental gear.
When what you really need is gear which is not precious. Get some.

4. Carry the least amount of gear so that you have total upper body mobility

I’m not that fit. Not young. My knees give me problems when I bend them. It gets worse even though I carry a light Lowe Passport thin fabric bag. Whether you’re fit or not, carrying a padded backpack with a bunch of large lenses restricts your inclination to lay the precious gear on the floor and get down low when you need to get down low. And quite a few shots work well below the waist. But what is the least amount of gear? How about one lens, one body?  Yes, I know you have an interchangeable lens camera but that doesn’t mean you have to change lenses constantly in the field.

5. Let your hair down. Take it easy. Relax on that tender but excruciatingly meticulous pursuit of processing perfection

So far, all cameras can produce JPEGs straight out of the camera. Some brands do it better than others. Even the ones that don’t do JPEGs as well, offer in-camera tweaks that improve over the defaults that camera review websites speak of. Find a good setting. Then shoot with it. Shoot JPEG + raw if you can’t avoid the obsessiveness of wanting to “work” raw one fine day. But for today, get to know and enjoy the JPEG. Celebrate it. Do as little post processing as possible - Straighten and Crop, Curves. Celebrate the SOOC JPEG. Celebrate you.

6. Participate in a supportive, congenial, motivating community where you get inspiration and pings as often as hourly

The joy of photography can be completely dampened by unenthusiastic, uncaring family and friends. You don’t have choice of family, that’s connection by birth. You do have a choice of friends but you often have made friends in you journey through life and not because they enthuse photography. Before the Web, life as a photo fan was indeed lonely – you could pore through glossy photo magazines but the photos weren’t yours and always looked better than whatever you could make.
The Web has connected people who love photography and who enthuse, cross-inspire, cross-motivate. And across  distances and countries. Again, be wary of those old time formal galleries like 500px or even flickr. It’s easy to get a sense of inadequacy there, conversation is brief and admiring, seldom as frequent as daily or hourly. Give Google+ a try. Or at least Instagram.
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