For me, photography has always been an interesting dichotomy or dilemma, a sort of love-hate relationship. I enjoy looking at photographs, but as someone who has always drawn or painted, to me, photography often seemed rather pointless other than “creating memories.” It’s the exactitude of a photo that gets me – little in the area of artistic endeavor. However, as I have been doing it now for about five years, I am slowly changing my mind.
Let’s travel back in time. As a kid, I had a camera, and took snaps. I also have a handful of photos from times past, images of my family and parents and of a generation past. There is something to be said for these pictures – a name has a face – a flavor of a time is caught. No, these are not “art” as I think of it, but bits and pieces of the quilt which is my life and the lives of others.
In my twenties, I bought a Canon A-1, thinking I’d be a hotshot photographer because I finally got a “good” camera. Hah! I have a number of snaps of deer butts – yes, indeed! a fine collection! The reason is simply because I had no education in photography or concept of construction of a photo – of waiting, of thinking, of taking the time to wait for a picture. The cost of film processing was dreadful, and so I put away the camera until the digital age.
The beauty of digital, as we all know, is the fact that film and processing costs go out the door. A few classes helped me learn more about the camera, and soon I had a few purchases and thousands of pictures under my belt. Truth to tell, I was – and still am – somewhat caught in a love-hate relationship with photography.
Now I am returning to film, and finding there is something about having to wait to see my photos. Digital has given me the opportunity to learn more about the elements of composition and how different lenses work. There are some lenses that are my favorites, many of which are manual focus or prime digitals. Some of my cameras I prefer more than others. There are also software programs and plug-ins which can trigger the creative process. Finally, it is a real pleasure to be able to scan my own analog images and play with them. Perhaps at one point I will develop and print, but for now, that cost factor and failure factor, and the where-the-hell-will-I-put-these factor all create a “no” for now.
I am learning to like photography more, and appreciate it as an art form. Some of it is an appreciation for the historical. Some of it is going out with friends and looking at what others do. Reading about different ways to “see” helps as well – working with the rule of thirds, layering of fore-middle-back, action, direction – all these are helping me see the world around me as it happens, which is very different than creating a picture on paper wherein I am the god(dess) directing motion, movement, or whatever.
Somewhere I read one must dedicate 10,000 hours to an art to gain a modicum of mastery. Maybe I am on my way.