With the advent of Digital Photography, printing photographs have taken a back seat. I no longer see people taking out photo prints & preserving them in an album to enjoy later. This has been replaced by archiving all the pictures onto an optical media & forgetting them after a while. However, there is some magic a print casts which a digital cannot replicate. Forget replicate, do nothing at all.
With prints, one can take the album & have a good time anywhere. You may argue that so can be their digital counterparts transported across phone, tablets, laptops, photo frames etc. But do you feel the photo on these digital devices? Its there one moment & in the next it goes off. The feel of handling a photo album is unique. It somewhat helps you in reliving the moment at your ease. No hurry. When you’re satisfied soaking up into the photograph, you can turn the page. With digital you cannot do so(those digital flip albums are not even close to the real thing) & often there is not much of an emotional connect. A printed photograph is way too powerful. It can bring lot of emotions which seldom come out when gazing the same photograph on a digital device.
Prints are good but huge prints are great! Select one of your favourite photograph & have it printed large(anything above 12*18 inches). The bigger the better. Now just take the print in your hand or lay in on table or frame it and take a moment to look at it. Just look at it without thinking of anything. Slowly you’ll feel the emotions. As your eyes run across the print, you’ll begin to realize what you’ve been missing with the same image projected on a digital device. These feelings are indescribably. Every-time you look at the print you will feel better. In my home, I have close to half dozen of frames lined up across the wall opposite my bed. So whenever I open my eyes to a new day, they are the first things I happen to see. It brings pleasant feelings to me & my day gets off to a kick-start. At times, I feel soon I’ll have to purchase a bigger home to add more.😉
To photographers, a huge print even functions as a learning aid. You get to notice the composition, the details, the story of the photograph clearly. So from time to time its a good idea to print big an image or two of yours. Its one of the reason the photo contests ask the participants to submit images printed in larger sizes.
Once you print your photographs big, I bet you will derive a new outlook towards seeing photographs, one which will dramatically change your perception of photography.
Histogram is perhaps the most neglected aspect amongst photographers. I’ve come across photographers who’re not even aware of what is exactly an histogram. Those who are aware of it just know as to how it looks. They have no clue of what the peaks & canons suggest in an histogram. However to become a photographer of a substance, one must know how to read histograms. Its not rocket since & its fairly easy.
I had noticed that unless there is some assignment or something important, my camera lies safely in its abode. I felt I’m not photographing enough in order to make myself a better photographer. Hence came the idea of undertaking a 365 Project.
In the beginning, I was daunted by the huge mountain of 365 Project. I thought to myself how long would I climb it successfully before I run out of oxygen. Each of the passing day meant fewer ideas for future shots. That’s when the climb began to feel stiffer. Slowly I could see the one’s who joined the project being motivated by me began to drop out one by one. There came a time when I was the only man climbing to the top. No, I didn’t think them to be my competition but on the contrary it was fun to have some people working on the same personal & collective goal.
The goal was distant but as they say, “to eat an elephant you need to just take an ant size bite”. Similarly, one must approach 365 Project one day at a time. No point in seeing it as a whole as that will definitely mean failure. I spread the word about my project all across my family & peers as that would mean further opportunities(and less nagging when I’m photographing as the food arrives at the hotel).
It has been a wonderful journey for 365 days & at the end I can only say, 365 Project not only made me a better photographer but also taught me a few other things. It taught me how to keep your feet grounded even if you achieve a higher position in life. Being humble is very important. No matter how big a photographer you are as there will be days when you just won’t be able to produce your magic. It was such days I use to get disappointed at first but later I accepted them as a part of project. These days of ordinary photographs keep you rooted & if you take them positively, they can fire you to continue doing better.
Secondly, 365 Project teaches you to be patient. Everyday you will be under pressure(see it as good pressure) to produce a different unique photograph for the day. As the clock clicks & you’re yet to photograph here you will begin to rush on things. And as you rush things, they get messier. Its time you stay calm & think about what & how to photograph. To be honest, I just had a single day in the year where I was under utmost bad pressure but still managed to produce a decent photograph. Over the time it got into me that 24 hours is a long time-span to get one photograph – a unique, well crafted, well seen photograph.
In a gist, 365 Project teaches you the qualities you need to lead life beautifully. The virtues of humility, patience, perseverance, endurance, practise, completing small chunks to accomplish large tasks/goals all help you to lead a better life. I highly recommend you to undertake the ‘365 Project’. I’m continuing the project for the second successive year. Would love to have your company. Do drop your project links in comments so I can follow you.
My 365 Project
When I was starting in Photography, I had no clue as to how shutter-speed, aperture & ISO affect the exposure. I had no idea as to why or when to one open up aperture or to raise or lower the ISO. Gradually with trial & errors along-with some reading up, I got grasp over these three elements of the exposure triangle. As the adage goes, when your basics are strong you can make better progress. I often feel most amateur photographers just blindly shoot without learning these basics as they feel them to be boring. Its partly true but that does not mean one should ignore them as every great photographer has these three elements deep sculpted in his mind. With “Right Click”, one can now no longer make any excuses for learning the ABC’s of Photography.
Right Click is an Android application which teaches you the basics of photography. It has two modes – View Mode & Read Mode. Under View mode, one can see the effects of change in aperture, ISO & shutter-speed. All illustrated by amazing visualizations. Under read mode, you can read in brief about them. The best thing about this app is the camera interface which mimics the Canon & Nikon DSLR’s screens so beginners will feel right at home. Apart from the basics, the app also briefs you on various genres of photography which I recommend reading. If you’re a beginner chances are that you’ve not yet found the genre of your liking in photography. Even if you’re not, each genre lists some handy tips which will help you shoot the particular genre with ease.
With the popularity of Android smart-phones, this application will find many takers. However there are a few typos within the read mode which need to be resurrected by the developers. Further I would like the application to provide some challenges to users like throwing up a scene & letting users set the ISO, exposure, aperture for the same. Furthermore expanding on the read mode will be a great addition. Also when user goes into read mode, the orientation changes from landscape to portrait which can be irritating. Else nothing much to complain. This tiny application will come very handy for someone starting with manual photography. And did I say, it offers all this for Free? If you’re beginner in photography & have an Android smart-phone, Right Click is an app you should definitely install.
In order to become a better & a successful photographer one doesn’t solely requires sound technical knowledge about photography. There are myriad other factors which determine the growth & success of a photographer.
Will/Determination – Anything is impossible without a will. A person should have the will to photograph. One should have in mind that he wants to photograph come what may. Only if one has will for photography, one would adopt it, experiment with it & create photographs. This will/determination should be strong and must endure test of time. A temporary or fluctuating determination is of no use. If you do not feel driven from within to create photographs, do not do so. You may find some other thing that will appeal to you which you should search & work upon to become successful.
Patience – “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” – Thomas Jefferson. Patience is a great virtue. Its is very true, haste makes waste. In order to rise in photography, one needs patience at every sidewalk. One needs patience while setting up the tripod, one needs patience while setting up the lights, one needs patience while waiting for the perfect landscape light, one needs patience in order to capture the peak moment & I can go on. A good photograph takes time to manifest. Sure, you may get lucky at times but overall it takes a lot of patience. If you’re short tempered you need to take a calm approach to photography. At times, you might not get the shot you desired but if you’re patient you’ll eventually. Also if you’re shooting for a client & mid-shoot any of your equipment dies on you, you need to stay calm & think appropriate solutions to get the shoot done. Such situation require a calm & patient attitude. This one quality will help you a great deal not only in Photography(or any art) but also in life.
Hard Work – There is no substitute for hard work. Armed with will & patience, continue to work harder on your photography skills. Sweat it out. Perform to the best of your abilities & capabilities of your equipment. Leave no stone unturned. Then the results will speak for themselves. Trust me, there is no greater satisfaction than getting the desired results after all that hard work.
Positive attitude – Think it, get it. If you think positive & feel the goodwill, good things will happen to you. Positive attitude does not mean you go aggressive & rash. It means to keep a positive frame of mind as you go around photographing. Its often the fear of failure which limit oneself. This fear cannot be totally eliminated but with positive thoughts it can be tossed into backseat allowing you to perform better & get the desired results. So work on yourself to remain positive under any circumstances.
All the above qualities go hand in hand. Work upon to cultivate & build upon all of them in yourself, you’ll get better with whichever art you want to master.