Haven’t you always wanted to be able to go to New York City or even Paris for the weekend? When you live on the east coast it isn’t such a special thing to go to NYC, but I grew up out west, so it was just as exciting as going to Paris would be. Well we did just that this past weekend. In fact we went to NYC for a day; one single day. There is a reason for this madness, as we were going to meet up with cousins, and it was all the time the wild child could take. So we set off early Friday morning to go to our New Jersey (NJ) cousins house. We spent the night there, and Saturday morning the wild child, the youngest, one NJ cousin and I headed off to the train station. We arrived at Penn Station about 10am and met up with our English (UK) cousins. A bit later our younger NJ cousin joined us from college and we set off for a day in Central Park with our cameras.
This day was full of fun, companionship, adventure, and learning. It was just fantastic! Now let me first set the scene. As you know the youngest and I have been on the road of learning with our cameras for awhile now. Both the older UK cousins are photographers, and really good. In fact he teaches one-on-one classes. He taught us a lot, but took the youngest under his wing for the day. He also taught me something very interesting. While we were on the subway he passed over his phone with a picture on it asking what I thought. It was of a castle by a lake, taken at that special time of day when the lighting was just full of color. Well, the first thing that hit me was the colors, they were beautiful. Then the thought flashes through my head “did he take it?” So my first reaction was to say it was lovely, and the colors in it were, especially on the small screen of his smartphone. I find out it wasn’t his, and they both didn’t like it! Ok, I panic a moment. They are both such great photographers. They enter, win, and now judge competitions. So I look closer, and then I start to see things. He mentions too much detail in the castle, and yes I then see it. Way too much clarity used in the post processing. The colors were beautiful, but technically the photograph itself was not. It was harsh, and needed to be softer.
I watch a lot of tutorials, training’s, and photography shows on the internet. Things like “The Grid” with Scott Kelby and R.C. Concepcion, and “The Art of Photography” podcast with Ted Forbes, where they occasionally do photography critiques. They can get very critical, and listening to the UK cousins I felt that same tone. I realized there is a real difference between the ‘art’ of photography as an artist, and as a photographer. I realized why the wild child didn’t really take to photography the way I thought she would being an artist. But I also realized how important your ‘eye’ is.
When I looked at the picture on the smartphone I saw the color first. The UK cousins saw the over-processing first. I had to look for the things wrong, they automatically saw it. It doesn’t make either of us right or wrong per se. But it does reiterate that we as human beings will get joy out of different things. The type of photography I do is catching the moment. So often there will be something technically wrong. I won’t have the settings just right because I didn’t have time to change them from the last shot. It will be blurry as I moved because I was laughing. None of this matters if I get the shot. But when you are making a perfect shot of something, you have to have the intent, the concept, and do it right. I look at my UK cousins work and see all they put into each and every shot. While we were walking around NYC his focus and attention to details like leading lines and composition are so important. My focus was getting that perfect shot of him with the youngest talking. We both care, we both do what is needed, and we both will have something in the end (well most of the time) that we are very happy with.
What did this teach me? I don’t have to have that perfect shot to capture that perfect moment. But when I what that technically perfect shot, I need to know what I am doing. That is where the education comes in, and knowing your equipment like the back of your hand. Practice, practice, practice.