8 February

Wag Wednesdays (and help for the Cochrane and Area Humane Society)

If you are a member of the oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group you already know that every Wednesday we encourage people to post creative photos of their pets (or anything else with a tail that could be wagged, wiggled or waved). To participate, just post your photo to our group with the hashtag #wagwednesdays – once a month or so we’ll round up the best submissions and feature them here on the blog (with your copyright info of course).

Affie

Affie, the puggle, behaving for treats.

Speaking of Wag Wednesdays, we borrowed that slogan from the Cochrane and Area Humane Society which has a Wednesday play group of the same name of which Affie is a member. He comes home on Wednesdays wagged out and wasted!

Affie playing hard at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society

Affie playing hard at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society

One of the needs the humane society has is to get an instant photo printer that can print 4×6 photos that they can use to raise funds by printing photos for clients, adopters and for educational uses. For example, many participants in Wag Wednesday would love to have a printed photo of their dog in action (see the CAHS Instagram feed for examples). If anyone has a used instant digital printer or wants to buy and donate a new one to the CAHS, especially one that can accept smartphone pictures wirelessly, that would be awesome (even if it does not have wireless that will still work as well). Just drop on by the humane society or you can contact us here at oopoomoo and we can deliver whatever you have. Below are a couple of examples of the kinds of printers we mean (older discontinued models are fine as well). And if you have any paper and ink to go with the printers that is even better (the disposables are where the expense comes in).

Instant printers designed to print smartphone photos:

Fuji Instax Share SP-1 or SP-2

Polaroid Zip

HP Sprocket

Instant printers designed to print smartphone photos and memory cards

Canon Selphy CP1200

Canon Selphy CP910

Epson Expression XP640

The puppies thank you!

The puppies thank you!

UPDATE – The Cochrane and Area Humane Society is now the proud owner of a Canon Selphy CP1200 thanks to the kind donation from a wonderful couple from Calgary!

31 January

The Best of oopoomoo Creatives 2016

We are thrilled to showcase the best work of our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group. This group of our students, friends and colleagues have produced creative and thoughtful work over the course of 2016. We are proud of their creative vision… most of the pictures were not taken at far off places or in iconic locations but rather were taken locally of everyday scenes. These 70 images confirm that it’s vision and individual expression that pushes art and not technique, gear or even location. Whether it’s the sweep of curtains across a carpeted floor or blades of grass in a sidewalk crack there is art everywhere if we are open to seeing. We want to thank all the oopoomoo Creatives out there for your continued inspiration and passion. Your great work deserved to be seen and we plan to provide even more opportunities to share your images with the world – stay tuned!

©Al Dixon

©Al Dixon

©Andrew Barron

©Andrew Barron

©Anita Vermaak

©Anita Vermaak

©Ann Nickerson

©Ann Nickerson

©Anna Ferree

©Anna Ferree

©April Henrikson Daly

©April Henrikson Daly

©Bill Warmington

©Bill Warmington

©Bill Warmington

©Bill Warmington

©Brian Hayward

©Brian Hayward

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Carolyn Steingard

©Carolyn Steingard

©Cheryl Wallach

©Cheryl Wallach

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Hayward

©Chris Hayward

©Christian Van Schepen

©Christian Van Schepen

©Connie Quinton

©Connie Quinton

©Connie Quinton

©Connie Quinton

©Dave Benson

©Dave Benson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dominic Byrne

©Dominic Byrne

©Dominic Byrne

©Donna Caplinger

©Donna Caplinger

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Edwina Podemski

©Edwina Podemski

©Elaine Delichte O'Keefe

©Elaine Delichte O’Keefe

©Fran Gallogly

©Fran Gallogly

©Fran Gallogly

©Fran Gallogly

©Frank Schortinghus

©Frank Schortinghus

©George Clayton

©George Clayton

©George Clayton

©George Clayton

©Gerry Ambury

©Gerry Ambury

©Gord Campbell

©Gord Campbell

©Hank Broomfield

©Hank Broomfield

©Heather Donauer

©Heather Donauer

©Huw Jenkins

©Huw Jenkins

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Janelle Evans

©Janelle Evans

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janet Barclay

©Janet Barclay

©John Foehl

©John Foehl

©Kat Enns

©Kat Enns

©Kathy Stinson

©Kathy Stinson

©Keith Walker

©Keith Walker

©Kelly Kitsch

©Kelly Kitsch

©Kristin Duff

©Kristin Duff

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Lorraine McNeely

©Lorraine McNeely

©Lynn Smith

©Lynn Smith

©Lynn Smith

©Lynn Smith

©Pam Jenks

©Pam Jenks

©Philip Cote

©Philip Cote

©Priya Biswas Miller

©Priya Biswas Miller

©Ralph Croning

©Ralph Croning

©Riana Vermaak

©Riana Vermaak

©Ryan Crouse

©Ryan Crouse

©Shaun Conarroe

©Shaun Conarroe

©Steve Poole

©Steve Poole

©Sue Olmstead

©Susan Olmstead

©Susan Ashley

©Susan Ashley

©Tom Nevesely

©Tom Nevesely

©Tracy Hindle

©Tracy Hindle

28 January

Photography with Meaning – What Do You Do for Exposure?

If you’ve been in photography long enough you’ll get a request from someone to use your pictures in exchange for ‘exposure’. What that means is they want the benefits of your fine photos but don’t want to pay you. Having the privilege of them publishing your photo is reward enough… or so they say. The funny thing is whenever we get these requests they are usually from large multi-national corporations with deep pockets… and a big advertising budget… and yet they won’t pay for quality images. The promise of them exposing your work to a wide audience is often hard to resist but we have found from experience that such exposure always falls flat.

Exposure - Is it worth it!

Exposure – Is it worth it!

On the other hand, when it comes to small community groups with no budget for photography they will often bend over backwards to try and pay you and give exposure that is respectful and meaningful. These groups need great visuals and they know the value of the image. Samantha and I love working with local groups who have causes we believe in because they offer the best kind of exposure. We get to meet real people, develop friendships and feel like we make a difference in the community. And of course we are happy to provide our services for free because we feel great helping them do good work. And feeling great charges up our creative juices and we get excited about photography all over again! Now that is the best kind of exposure!

What do you do in for ‘exposure’ and how has it worked out for you? We love to hear about it!

Chef Darren MacLean at rooftop veggie garden, Calgary, Alberta

Chef Darren MacLean at rooftop veggie garden, Calgary, Alberta

Portraits of local musicians

Portraits of local musicians

Passive solar tiny home - Hereabouts B+B, Cochrane, AB

Passive solar tiny home – Hereabouts B+B, Cochrane, AB

Local CSA farm portraits

Local CSA farm portraits – Seeds to Greens

Permaculture 'permablitz' in Calgary, Alberta

Permaculture ‘permablitz’ in Calgary, Alberta

Local organic farming practices

Local organic farming practices

©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

Portraits at the local humane society

Humane Society dog portrait

Humane Society dog portrait

4 January

The Camera Club Rules of Photography – Do they Stifle Creativity?

Note this article was previously published over a year ago in Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine – to get articles freshly pressed be sure to subscribe to this fine magazine!

Camera clubs are excellent places for photographers to learn and share photography. In my own development as a photographer I owe much of my early inspiration, learning and excitement about photography to time spent in Images Alberta Camera Club in Edmonton. The friendships developed and the lessons learned have stayed with me through life. I have an abiding fondness for camera clubs, but there can be a dark side to belonging to a camera club….

©Dave Williamson - Sam kicks my butt whenever I start to go all formulaic!

©Dave Williamson – Sam kicks my butt whenever I start to go all formulaic!

 

As with any group effort, sometimes a little herd mentality may surface. And this way of thinking can stifle innovative or fresh ways of photographing – especially when it comes to image competitions. Over time, critiques of submitted images become increasingly formulaic; images that follow the ‘accepted’ rules of competition will score higher than those images that do not abide by these, dare I say it, sacred rules. Putting aside whether competitions are even healthy outlets for creativity, it seems that the ‘rules of photography’ espoused by most camera clubs reward conformity. In my experience, not much creativity happens when the first priority is conformity.

Let’s take a look at four ‘rules’ commonly trotted out during image critique sessions by camera club members.

In camera clubs often everyone begins to shoot the same things.

In camera clubs often everyone begins to shoot the same things.

What is the Subject?

It seems that every photo must have a centre of interest (watch yourself though – placing an object in the centre of your frame violates the superior rule of thirds). According to camera clubs an image needs to have something that we, the viewers, can define as a ‘subject’. No obvious subject? Then the image has failed. Abstract images that are simply about pattern, texture, graphic design or mood do not do well in photo clubs. Abstract painters like Kandinsky, Pollock and Miro would have a difficult time thriving under a regime that forces them to have an obvious subject.

Brazeau Colleries, Nordegg, Alberta, Canada ©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

Sometimes a photo can just be about pattern and design with no centre of interest!

Fill the frame!

One of the ways that camera clubs reinforce the idea of subject is to tell photographers to fill the frame with the subject. This rule makes sense in that many beginning photographers make pictures where it’s not clear what the photo is about or why they took the photo in the first place. Having photographers fill the frame with their desired subject of interest is an easy way to get photographers to make better images. If you fill the frame with the subject, then we will know what the photo is about – all other stuff is excluded. But if all we ever do is fill the frame with the subject, there is no room left to explore placing our subject in a broader environment to tell a contextual story. Many of the great environmental portraits we see in National Geographic or Life magazine do not ‘fill the frame’ but have a small subject in a sea of context. Try that in a camera club and you will hear, “Get closer and fill the frame!”

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The subject here is obviously the penguin but the concept is the penguin in its environment, filling the frame with just the penguin would dilute the story idea.

Make it Sharp!

In camera clubs there is a fascination with sharpness and detail. Much time is spent talking about the best sensors, the sharpest lenses and esoteric things like circles of confusion and hyper-focal distance. If an image is not tack sharp, it won’t win a competition. Period. I think this fascination is partly about gear and partly because most camera clubs are populated with the over 50 crowd who long for the 20-20 vision of their youth (trust me, I know, I also fall into this camp)! Some of the most recognized and historic photos of all time have not been sharp. Just think of Robert Capa’s World War II D-Day photos. These gritty photos succeed because the blur and grain give them the mood of being there. Ansel Adams famously said, “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” Of course we can reverse this idea and state, “There is nothing better than a fuzzy shot of a sharp concept.”

©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

There is nothing in focus in this image and yet the concept of sparkling highlights on water shines through.

Shoot in Good Light

And finally, there is the fascination with light in photography. This makes sense because photography is literally ‘writing with light’. Light is our tool; the cameras and lenses just capture the light. So a pre-occupation with light is an occupational hazard in photography. Camera clubs tend to classify light as good or bad. Good light is the ‘sweet’ light of the ‘golden hour’ (the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset). Any other light is bad. The reality is, as my partner Samantha likes to say, “There is no such thing as bad light!” There is either light that flatters your subject or concept or light that detracts from the subject or concept. Your job, as a photographer, is to choose the light that best enhances your idea for the photo.

©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

By classic definitions, this is bad light for a mountain scenic; but for mood and story the light is perfect.

The rules of photography that camera clubs follow are generally useful ‘guidelines’ for making stronger images. But like any rule, followed religiously the rules become constraints and shackles to creativity. You obviously need to know why rules work so that when you break them you do so for creative effect. I wish that camera clubs would look beyond the rules and just look at the heart of each image. If it resonates in spite of ‘flaws’ it is a good photograph. I’ll end this article with another Ansel Adams quote which nicely sums everything up: “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”

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31 December

Lights of the Season

For December we challenged our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group to interpret the theme #lightsoftheseason. Below are some of their results that we liked best.

Congratulations to Drake Dyck who we think did the most creative interpretation of the theme. Drake wins a copy of our eBooks: The Icefields Parkway Winter Edition and Kootenay Plains and Abraham Lake Winter Edition.

If you are interested in participating in our monthly photo challenges sign up for our newsletter and get our Born Creative eBook for free!

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Fran Gallogly

©Fran Gallogly

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Nancy Coffey

©Nancy Coffey

©Pam Jenks

©Pam Jenks

©Pam Jenks

©Pam Jenks

©Ralph Croning

©Ralph Croning

©Robert Skoye

©Robert Skoye

14 December

Love is Blind

It’s funny how our expectations and biases colour how we see the world. Sam and I spend much of our time teaching photographers to shed their visual biases and see the world as it is instead of how they think it should be. By being open you’ll get inspiration anywhere and not be shut down by the tunnel vision of expectation.

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As much as I know the lesson of being open in photography, I recently discovered that I am much less keen to shed biases in life. In August of 2014 we lost our beloved dog Brando to cancer. It took us a long time to heal from the loss and even consider the idea of a new furry friend.

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For the last 14 months I have been working part-time at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society and literally hundreds of adoptable dogs have crossed my path. We get dogs of all sizes and breeds and personality types but I found the ones that I were attracted to all had similar qualities. First of all, the dogs that caught my attention were almost always working or sporting dog breeds or mixes. This is not a surprise because the last five dogs that I have owned or co-owned have been a Shepard/Rottie cross (Brando), a Malamute, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and an Australian Shepard cross. I like responsive, active dogs that are happy to please.

Imacon Color Scanner

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And so, possible candidates for adoption were categorized as acceptable or not acceptable by me simply based on looks and general disposition. In short, I was not open to seeing the dogs for who they were but instead for what I wanted them to be. I think I’m not alone…many people I know and work with have a ‘soft spot’ for a certain type or breed of dog. Of course, I thought I was being ‘open’ because I never picked the same breed twice but of course I was biased… unless it was a working/sporting dog it was simply not a candidate. For example, I was really interested in adopting the cattle dog cross below.

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And then… something happens you don’t expect. On November 7, a 2-month old puppy came into the shelter with sarcoptic mange. The poor little fellow was under high quarantine procedures for most of the time until the mange could be cured and he was not contagious. Caring for the little fart allowed me to get to know him, in spite of the severe restrictions placed on him for minimal contact. I never imagined him as a candidate for adoption (he was not my ‘type’). He was just a fun guy that I helped take care of while he got better. And he was cute….

The shelter's intake photo

The shelter’s intake photo of the mange puppy.

It was not until he was out of quarantine and Sam met the little dude that the wheels started to turn. I suggested we take him for an overnight visit and, except for a bit of bossy pants barking, I began to realize that he was a pretty awesome little man. I began to see him for who he was as he wormed his way into my heart. Of course, Sam saw him for himself right away and did not foist expectations on who he should be (she is good that way). Sam was open to adopting the littler bugger. And so, the latest member of the oopoomoo team is a pug/beagle cross (a Puggle) that we have dubbed Charles Affables Puggles the Third or “Affie” to his friends (which is everyone).

Thanks Affie (and Sam) for reminding me that our biases can get in the way of us truly seeing, whether that be in photography or in judging others.

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8 December

Where’s Your Photography Honeypot?

Darwin and I have a secret photo place we go to. It’s close by, it’s easy to access and it almost always delivers something. Here are some images from an outing to the  historic Cochrane Ranche site made last spring.

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

We only spent just over an hour, but had a much higher ‘keeper rate’ than usual from a photo outing. Normally, we delete around 90% of the images from a photo shoot. (Yes, DELETE, as in permanently toss. Hey, junk is junk! By now we usually appreciate the difference between a good image and a mediocre one – and we still have those “what was I thinking?” stinkers that also end up in the digital trash can.) But our keeper rate from this last spring visit was over 80%! This makes us very happy. Here’s the breakdown:

Darwin: 46 exposures, 16 unique compositions, 13 keepers

Sam: 42 exposures, 18 unique compositions, 15 keepers (ahem, note my slight edge in quantity if not quality…)

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Notice also that, even though we are sometimes standing shoulder-to-shoulder, we still come away with our own unique style with the same subject matter (Darwin always warms things up!) Good honeypots offer a variety of ways to interpret a place for the creative shooter.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Do you have a local photo honeypot? Where do you head when you have limited time but are hoping for good returns?

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

Save

30 November

The Urban Tiny House

Here at oopoomoo we are interested in people who have carved their dreams out of the impenetrable bedrock of societal structure. One local person who has done just that and who is a huge inspiration to us is Jackie Skrypnek. For years Jackie has quietly volunteered behind the scenes in the local food, environment and social sustainability movements. Jackie puts in the work because she believes a better world is possible. She is not looking for accolades or awards; she is looking for results.

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Jackie, Samantha and I all have Permaculture Design Certificates (PDCs) from Verge Permaculture in Calgary. Part of the mandate or being a “permie” is to take action and do something that makes a difference in the world. Jackie has done just that. She has transformed her backyard from lawn into an ecologically sustainable food production centre which provides fresh, organic food for her family and friends. And she and her husband, Bryan, have built a passive solar tiny home in their backyard that will operate as an educational B+B teaching people about passive solar design, smaller footprint living and permaculture gardening principles.

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The tiny home is only 247 sq feet but packs in sleeping, bathroom, kitchen, living, and dining areas. Jackie designed the tiny home and Jackie and Bryan built it themselves — it’s a work of art! Jackie battled the town bureaucracy to make the first tiny home B+B in Cochrane happen and now, through her perseverance, Jackie’s dream is ready to share with the world. On December 4, from 1 – 3 PM, Jackie is having an open house in Cochrane so you can see the tiny home for yourself and maybe even win a one night stay (there is a draw!). For details on the open house just download this PDF. If you can’t come, we’ve taken a few photos to show you this amazing little tiny home. Congratulations Jackie and Bryan! Cochrane is proud of you!

The Hereabouts Tiny Home website is now live for bookings!

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6 November

The oopoomoo Pokie Awards!

Anyone who has been to oopoomoo seminars or workshops will be familiar with one of the most common compositional flaws in photography – the dreaded pokie.

What is a pokie? No, it’s not a friend of Gumby but rather it’s:

Little objects that stick into the edge of your frame accidentally.

Pokies are not purposeful parts of the composition. Instead they sneak into the frame like unwelcome guests and ruin the party by drawing attention to themselves. In short, they weaken your images. In the image below, can you spot the pokie?

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

Pretty obvious, eh? That little spruce branch in the upper right corner of the frame just screams out, “Look at me!”

Sometimes we are so fixated on our subjects while shooting that we don’t notice pokies until later when we look at the images on the computer screen. But once you are aware of pokies you’ll start to notice them all the time and you’ll learn to adjust your composition right away to get rid of those pesky buggers.

©Darwin Wiggett - The little bush in the lower left corner of the frame is a sneaky little pokie.

©Darwin Wiggett – The little bush in the lower left corner of the frame is sneaking into the composition!

©Darwin Wiggett - A Slight shift in position gives a pokie free composition!

©Darwin Wiggett – A slight shift in position kills that annoying pokie! Much better.

In some cases you can clone or crop out the offending pokies but sometimes you can’t. Rather than fix compositional errors in post, you’ll be a better photographer and you’ll save time at the computer later if you learn to spot and eliminate pokies in the field.

©Darwin Wiggett - A definite pokie problem here!

©Darwin Wiggett – A definite pokie problem here!

©Darwin Wiggett - A definite pokie problem here.

©Darwin Wiggett – Ah, pokie free and happy!

The Contest

Show us your best pokie shot and win a spot in one of our January 2017 Resolve: Discover Your Creative Self eCourses. Post your image or images to our oopoomoo Facebook group or email us your entry (info at oopoomoo.com) before midnight MDT November 16, 2017. Below are some ideas of the kinds of images to enter.

  • The Annoying Pokie – Show us a great shot that you made that was ruined or marred by an uninvited pokie.
  • The Pokie Eliminator – Show us how you zapped away a pokie by changing your composition while shooting (we’ll need to see a before picture showing the nasty pokie, and then the fixed, pokie-free photo). No Photoshop fixes please!
  • A Famous Pokie – Show us an annoying pokie in an iconic photograph from a famous photographer (yes, pokies have learned how to be published!). Be sure to credit the photographer and provide a website link to where you found the photo (comment and criticism on published pieces are allowed as fair use). Note: we can only award the pokie prize to a photographer who submits their original work so this last category is more for fun, education and discussion than for prize consideration.

Be sure to tag your images with #thepokieawards to ensure we consider your entry.

©Darwin Wiggett - A popular and widely published image with several pokie problems!

©Darwin Wiggett – A popular and widely published image of mine with several pokie problems!

7 October

Our Obsession with Gear

This article was previously published in Outdoor Photography Canada several years ago. To get these articles when they first come out please subscribe  to the magazine. 😉

We’ve all heard the old saying: “It’s not the camera that makes the picture, it’s the photographer.” Why in music isn’t there a similar refrain? “It’s not the piano that makes the music, it’s the musician.” Or in art? “It’s not the brush or the paint, but the painter.”  We rarely care about what brand of brush an artist uses; we care about the art produced. So why is it that, invariably, the first question asked of photographers is, “what kind of camera do you use?”

Photographer with King Penguin at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia Island ©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

Photographer with King Penguin at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia Island
©Darwin Wiggett

We think the problem with photography is that photographers use a tool that records images directly from reality.  There is no implied ‘interpretation’ in using a camera. It’s seen as a device which objectively records the ‘real’ world. As such, we think that the better the recording device (the camera), the more accurate the reality, and therefore the better the photograph. And so it goes. As photographers we become obsessed with getting better and better gear. Our camera, lenses and accessories become the ends to the means and the means to an end. We become slaves and lovers of the technical aspects of the endeavour. Art is forgotten if even acknowledged at all.

©Samantha Chysanthou - oopoomoo.com

©Samantha Chysanthou

In photography we are less likely to think like an artist. An artist uses his or her tools as a means of inner expression. Art is about telling the world who you are and what you think. Art is not reality; it’s an interpretation of your personal reality. Photographers mistakenly believe that the more they know about gear, tools and technique, the more accurate their representation of reality. Of course, nothing is further from the truth. Obsession with gear and goodies only gets in the way of communicating any message whether that message is journalistic or artistic. In photography we spend precious little time developing vision and voice. Mostly we just want to play with goodies.

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Aspen Trees and Abraham Lake – ©Samantha Chrysanthou

For photographers who want to advance beyond gear obsession into the realm of artistic expression, we recommend several approaches:

  1. Take a bare minimum of gear with you on photo outings. We have written about this before but remind you about taking only a camera and one prime lens like a 50mm lens to help you hone your ability to see and express yourself with a single tool.
  2. Think of your photography not as a hunt for single trophy shots but instead in terms of a project. Pick a topic (e.g. garbage, trees, puddles) or a conceptual theme (isolation, power, contrast) and develop a body of work that speaks to the topic or theme. Project-based photography will help you concentrate more on the message than the medium. Gear quickly becomes secondary and diminished in importance compared to artistic expression.
  3. Take a course in photography that is about leaning to see and expression. Avoid courses that discuss technique or gear. You want to exercise your creative expression and not your wallet. Buying more gear, software or camera goodies will not help you. Invest in discovering your creative eye. One option is our Resolve: Discover Your Creative Self  eCourse which is targeted so that you discover what makes your creative clock tick.
  4. Instead of reading on-line reviews of cameras and lenses, book off a day a month to go to art galleries and check out paintings, sculptures and visual installations. Take a notepad and jot down why the art appeals to you or not. Relax and really look at the pieces. What is the art telling you about the artist?
  5. Don’t try too hard; let your subjects speak to you. Don’t force a technique or a conscious attempt at style. Just respond and soon your photos will be created from within and not as a result of blindly jabbing at the shutter of your high-priced optical recording device.
  6. Get off the camera control crutch. Go back to fully auto or program mode in your camera and just shoot intuitively. Don’t think, just respond.

Of course there is a lot more you can do, but hopefully these little exercises will get you off the obsession with gear and on to the discovery of your self!

Ripples on Horseshoe Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada ©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

Ripples on Horseshoe Lake, Jasper National Park
©Darwin Wiggett

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