Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Photo stream

I think one of the reasons I take so many pictures is that I don't trust myself to remember. Ever since I was a child, I've been a picture taker. Gosh I was terrible as a kid at taking pictures. I have old albums (come to think of it, the "old" is probably redundant now) with pictures of the grass, the tire, the sky. One day, I think it was my father who told me but I'm not really sure, I learned that pictures without people in them aren't interesting. I remember how ashamed I felt, I mean here all these years I was focusing on things instead of people. This explains why I have hundreds of subsequent pictures of the round-the-country-trek I did with my best friend after graduating from high school with every shot either of me or him pointing at the object of interest. Somehow, having people in them didn't really make the pictures more interesting either. Looking at them today, it's hard to access the memories on my head's hard drive, but the pictures draw them forth or recreate them, which if you think about it, really makes no difference. All my life too I've been drawn to the idea of taking a photography class. Every time the community college semester started or there was a community center class happening, I'd check out the description and always be turned off by the fact that my current equipment wasn't adequate. What was wrong with my little instamatic? They always wanted you to have a 35mm or nowadays a big fancy I don't even know what they're called, but they kind of resemble the old style 35mm cameras. So elitist. I'm an amateur, why do I need to futz with lenses, just teach me how to have an eye for things. Turns out, you can learn a lot of that by trial and error, and even (gasp how novel) by reading books. Still, I think trial and error work best. My favorite tips about picture taking are one, try to have a foreground and background focus, two, things oriented so that your focus is drawn into an L shape are often pleasing, and three, avoid centering the object you're photographing. I really suck at the lighting part of photography and that's something I'm putting on this year's goal list to improve. (Eek, this reminds me that I'm late getting that done.) Still, the main reason I take lots of pictures is to remember, because especially as I get older, that is one skill that is slipping away.

18 comments:

Colleen said...

We have a couple of photographers down here in Saint John that put on courses - and they're great in that there are usually a few field trips to get you out and taking photos. Another one will use an event like planned fireworks to throw a workshop to learn how to take pics of those. They don't particularly care what kind of camera you have - they'll work with the individual. You should see if any photographers do the same up your way.

Anyone else find it kind of ironic that this is one of the few posts that does not have a pic embedded? :)

Marc said...

The ubiquitous nature of digital cameras has turned my kids into fanatical photographers. The love taking pictures of everything - and I mean *everything* (the floor, the TV, other pictures sitting on the shelf). Since the pictures are now basically free, I don't discourage this at all. Its interesting to watch the eight year old's skills develop; he's actually become a fairly good photographer, capturing some amazing shots of people in candid poses as well as beautiful and interesting landscapes. I think that the photographic 'eye' - the ability to innately see the good shot through the lens (sorry - through the back screen!) is inbred more than learned. It can be enhanced and developed, but it truly is a talent more than a skill.

Birdie said...

I'm with you. I love photography, seeing it and doing it. No practical skills at all.

Your dad may have meant well, but he was wrong. Look at those early pictures to remember what you found interesting. Pictures often say more about the photographer than the item in the frame.

Roxrocks said...

I'm with Colleen, I expected to see a church door or a steaming pile of poo or something.

Get a digital photography book and play, play, play! You take great snaps anyway, so I don't know why you'd even need to improve.

Anonymous said...

A picture paints a thousand words. I love your pictures of clouds and buildings and flowers. I'll never see these things from the Montreal area except through your eyes, thanks. ed

Lemuel said...

First, you do take veyr good pictures. I enjoy seeing your shots when you post them.

The photos that I took in my childhood were mainly things and not people. For me what now makes the shots with people interesting is seeing the changes in the people I know/knew - or remembering people who are no longer around.

truthspew said...

Like you I take pictures of things and sometimes people.

Part of the reason is because I post a lot of technical or technology pictures.

GayProf said...

I always wanted to take a photography class, but never quite got around to it (I did have a SLR camera).

The dawn of the digital age, however, ended almost all photography for me. Since I don't own a digital camera (aside from the one in my cell phone), it seems like too much of a hassle to bring out the old bulky film one.

em said...

Wow, me too on the childhood pictures devoid of people. Iiked to group all my favorite things together and then take pictures of them. I had that same sense of shame when I was told too.

Maybe it wasn't elitist that they required a 35mm camera. It just inside the box thinking. I mean many people wanted/needed training on the camera settings.

I expected pictures in todays post too.

Greg said...

I was amused last spring to come across my first photo album and see that I'd taken photos even then of crocuses and lilacs and such, although they were often a bit out of focus.

Perhaps the single most important lesson I've learned since digital photography is being conscious (or trying to) of light sources and such.

Have fun! (Oh, and thanks for the link to that desktop photo thingy a while back...what fun!)

David said...

My dad is also of the school of "you have to put a person in there" but I think it ruins a beautiful scenic shot to have someone standing stiffly with a forced grin on their face. I ignored his advice on that one.

franck said...

And funnily enough, there are no pics with this post...

Mark in DE said...

I would have to disagree that photos without people in them aren't interesting. Some things are so captivating and beautiful they don't need people to enahance them.

Rick said...

I agree. The lighting thing is the hardest. I always think the picture is going to come out the way I see it. It always looks so much better in reality.

A self-confessed amateur

Patricia said...

I like your photos and the only thing that really matters is that you like your photos. I took a class in college, just because I was always so interested in it. I learned about f stops and overlighting snow and all the technical stuff, but what I learned most was confidence. To trust my eye, to have my shutter finger tied to my heart, in a way.

I think that's why I love the doors as much as you do. They speak to me and I don't have to know why.

anabel said...

I'm glad you mentioned the shaming part of putting people in pictures. I like people in pictures but I think I was indoctrinated with this as a child as well. I may have infected my kids.

With digital though you don't really waste shots like it felt like I was doing when I had to have them developed.

I'll make sure my kids know and also give myself permission to experiment more.

dykewife said...

speaking of dumps...i saw this and thought immediately of you. i hope you enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Forget what the tech nerds tell you -- your equipment doesn't matter, nor does how much it cost, only your eyes matter. Take a photography class, take a lighting class, but also take an art class and try to learn to see differently. Check out www.kenrockwell.com to hear a guy with a bazillion dollars worth of gear say your camera doesn't matter.
-Gary
[upwardly mobile amateur]