Never think photography is easy

This is a quote from Magnum photographer Chris Steele-Perkins. I couldn’t agree more with this.

Photography fundamentals are pretty easy really. A thorough understanding of how auto focus and metering work in a modern camera isn’t that difficult. There are only three fundamentals (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) you need to understand for getting a decent photograph. Even composition ideas such as rule of thirds, geometry, leading the eye, grid layout and edge emphasis are really quite easy to learn.

Making a great image, however, is extremely difficult. Making a great image that stands out as unique and appropriate, one that stands the test of time, one that communicates visually and one that fits importantly as a leader in the oeuvre of photographic and art history is excruciatingly difficult if not close to impossible. All of the available tools and techniques are simply vehicles to get you half way there. You’ll have to get out and walk the other half to reach your destination on your own.

Consider even a basic assignment – whether it be a magazine cover, a wedding portrait, still life or whatever image you are trying to tackle. Making the image remarkable is difficult. It requires throwing all the stuff you’ve learned aside at times to make that image work and become something special. It means having patience and bringing together lighting conditions, personalities and energy to create something that is not a mere “snapshot”. Sometimes it even means performing to a level of excellence in front of clients on the set who seem to be preoccupied with budgets, a disregard for taste and their own schedule of going home at 5. You have to find ways of keeping them happy and still creating something remarkable.

Sometimes you have to endure late nights, early mornings, long waits for weather conditions to change, malfunctioning equipment, rules, politics, personalities and even our own egos and demands.

As photographers, we have to strive for excellence in our work and THAT is difficult.

August 15th 2008 - Crispy