Photography Can Be Difficult or Complex. Choose Complexity.

Photography can be difficult or complex. Why choose a difficult photography approach when a complex process makes us better photographers and makes our process simple? 

Photography can be difficult or complex Sam D’Amico’s Photography classes were voted the Best Art Class in Washington, DC.  

Yesterday, while teaching an Intermediate Photography lesson, I mentioned complexity.  

Specifically, I pointed out the complexity of the work they’ve been doing.

They were now engaged in a complex thought and compositional process that deepened their visual awareness, vocabulary, and toolbox. 

And how, because of their complex process, they were creating more interesting and unique photographs. 

I also mentioned that complex does not mean difficult and pointed out that our photography can be difficult or complex.

I want to discuss the differences between difficult (hard) photography and complex photography. They’re nothing alike because a complex process creates an effortless simplicity while working.

Difficult (Hard) Photography

Most photographers contact me about my classes because they find photography hard or, in other words, difficult.

The frustration and disappointment we usually experience happen because we find photography difficult.

And we typically experience difficulty as photographers when our photographs don’t come out as intended. 

But, what we once perceived as difficult becomes not difficult through understanding. And part of that understanding is seeing how photography can be difficult or complex.

And in our case, as photographers, that understanding comes through our photography studies and practice.

Furthermore, once we understand the complexities of photography and choose to create complex photographs,  we can see how photography can be difficult or complex.

And because we once viewed photography as difficult, we can now see the simplicity of a complex approach.

Specifically, our photography is no longer difficult when we understand what we do as photographers.

This includes our understanding of what we do with camera operation, elements of composition, and our observation of light results in a photograph.

The benefits of understanding result in the following:

  • Decreasing the time and effort in creating pictures
  • Seeing how our circumstances and conditions influence the outcome of our photography
  • An increase in our confidence and skills
  • Increasing the accuracy during our compositional process
  • An increase in our ability to create the best pictures possible

Complex Photography

First, complex does not mean difficult. So when I say that our photography can be difficult or complex, I want to be clear that complexity makes our photography easier to do and understand.

Complex means there are multiple parts. And even though the complex has numerous parts, in this case, the complex makes our photography easier.

Again, our difficulty in photography comes from not understanding photography. And once we understand photography, we can begin working with the complexities of photography. 

Our photography can be more or less complex depending on how we think about our actions while making a picture and what we do.

We create complex photographs by first observing and understanding the light we see (visual awareness) and then defining our intent of the composition.

And once we’ve defined our intent of composition, we create our photograph with our intent of camera operation, which can make our photography difficult or complex. 

Creating a complex photograph involves working in fully manual exposure mode. Aperture priority and shutter priority will also work. But I think aperture priority and shutter priority modes make our photography more difficult. Not as difficult as fully automatic exposure modes but more difficult than fully manual exposure modes.

Understanding how our choices influence our picture’s outcome is also helpful. And this doesn’t only apply to our exposure mode choices. It also involves the awareness and understanding of our focus modes and areas and our metering patterns/modes.

The Benefits of Complex Photography

I prefer my approach to photography to be complex. And I enjoy seeing what appears to be a complex photograph. Furthermore, because more complex photographs seem more interesting, I spend more time engaged with what I see. So, I always select complex when choosing between difficult or complex picture-making methods.

And because I know that photography can be difficult or complex,  I understand the benefit of a complex approach to photography.

With complexity comes:

  • A way of thinking
  • An intricate knowing
  • Specific expectations
  • A larger and more specific range of learning activity
  • An ability to understand, recognize and communicate abstract concepts
  • The quality of our responses, in the form of the photographs we make, improves

The Paradox of Complexity

The paradox of complexity in our photography studies and practice is that with complexity comes simplicity. 

And since photography can be difficult or complex, why choose a difficult photography approach when a complex approach makes us better photographers and simplifies our process? 

Because we have knowledge of the complexities of photography and understand how to work with them, we can create photographs more efficiently, confidently, and uniquely.

What We Do Is Up to Us

Of course, what we do is up to us.

When we realize that our approach to our work can be difficult or complex, we can make a choice.

The choice is whether we continue struggling with difficulties or create photographs with unique visual depth.

And the way of creating photographs with unique visual depth comes from understanding the complexities of photography and making our complex process simple.


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Photography can be difficult or complex

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