What Should We Pay to Improve Our Photography?

Many of us, when looking to improve our photography, spend money on equipment. We think that the better/newer the equipment the better our photography. We pay plenty of money because we believe that the equipment will enable us to create better photographs. Most of the time our photography remains the same, only the equipment, and our bank accounts, have changed.

What do we need to create a photograph? We need a camera, a lens and light sensitive material to record light. If you are using a pinhole camera you can dispense with the lens.

What do we need to create a GOOD photograph? An understanding of the craft of photography can help. The more we understand about the craft of photography the more depth we can bring to our pictures. If we can’t teach ourselves about the craft, a class/workshop with a good teacher will help us enormously and is well worth the cost, but there’s something else that won’t cost us anything.

What do we need to pay to create GOOD photographs and yet cost us nothing out of our pockets?

ATTENTION!!!

Our cameras record EVERYTHING that we place into our framing and, assuming that there is enough light being reflected or transmitted by the objects in the frame, whether we see it or not it’s there!

We see with discrimination. We see what’s interesting to us and pay attention to that, usually at the expense of everything else in the frame. On the other hand our cameras see indiscriminately and are interested in nothing.

We have to learn to see like our cameras record our photographs, without discrimination. Although we need to concentrate on what’s interesting and important to us, we also need to pay attention to everything else in the frame. If we don’t pay attention to everything else, we get things in the photograph that we don’t want in the photograph..like poles growing out of peoples heads!

Pay attention to EVERYTHING in the frame. If we look at our photograph after the exposure was made and see something that wasn’t there, we weren’t paying attention. Things that weren’t in our viewfinder prior to our exposure don’t magically appear in the photograph after the exposure was made. There’s nothing wrong with a pole growing out of someone’s head if that’s what we saw in our viewfinder before our exposure was made and decided to keep it there.

We need to look at ALL of the picture in our viewfinder and organize it. We should be filling the frame with the elements of the composition that are important to us and paying attention to how those elements relate to each other then, when everything feels right to us, we make the exposure. By doing this at the very least we’ll have a well composed picture. At the most, if we are true to OUR feelings about whatever we are photographing, we’ll not only have a well composed picture we’ll have a picture filled with feeling.

We can’t force feeling into a picture. A picture filled with feeling is usually an automatic result of examining what’s important to us as individuals and including those important compositional elements, and their relationships, in our photographs.

If you want to improve your photography, before plunking down a pile of cash to pay for that new state of the art super mega-expensive piece of equipment that you think will improve your pictures, try paying attention. It’ll cost you nothing and I believe that our thoughtful attention is the best investment we can make when it comes to our photographs.

What will you pay attention to?

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No Responses to “What Should We Pay to Improve Our Photography?”

  1. Terrence says:

    Thanks for the post. I always thought about that myself to pay attention to everything in the frame. It cam also be a part of the story.

  2. Obiageri Okafor says:

    Thank you Sam for this post. This is exactly what I needed to hear. I was considering getting a new camera (maybe a SLR) and drop my Canon PowerShot. But I think I will put that thought away and put to practice your advice. One of the things that hinders me with my photography is that I keep thinking that having a SLR camera will make me look like a serious photographer and so I will be more confident with taking pictures in the public. Thank you for our advice.

    • Sam D'Amico says:

      You’re welcome Obiageri.

      One of the most important things we do as photographers is pay attention. This is a skill you can hone with any camera.

      Only purchase a new camera when you think that your current camera is limiting you.

  3. valter schleder says:

    great way to see things Sam .

    thank you,very much

    Best regards

    Valter.

  4. Dave Mullen says:

    Nice post Sam… maybe I’ll go out tomorrow and try paying attention to some stuff I’ve just kept walking by in the past.

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