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Monday, June 18, 2007

Sometimes A Lens Is Just A Lens

Being a professional photographer is full of emotional ups and downs. Managing the rough times leaves you in a position to reach ever higher levels of success and creativity

Sometimes A Lens Is Just A Lens Within the psyche of the creative photographer resides a delicate balance between knowledge and ego. We're a band of visual storytellers. Perceptually, we're consumed by capturing or creating moments, those instances when an accidental collision of timing, your library of knowledge and a splash of instinct occur to yield an epic photo. And while we live for those precious few moments, the time in between them can be about as smooth as a rubber raft in a monsoon. As your career evolves, you'll find that diligently expanding your knowledge can yield unexpected and illogical results. On the other side of the psyche, your ego will play an enormously important role in propelling you forward as well as doing an equally phenomenal job of stopping you in your tracks.

I Was Better When I Knew Nothing

About four or five years into my career, I was cleaning out my attic when I found a proof sheet from my first year of shooting. The pictures were fabulous. In many ways, they were better than the work I was producing at the time. How was this possible? I had garnered a much more solid base of technical knowledge in the intervening few years. In fact, my brain was constantly spinning with ƒ-stops, shutter speeds…and a girl named Allison. Well, at least the first two were important to my photography.

The mystery remained: Could I really be getting worse as I learned more? In a way, yes. An enormously successful commercial photographer once said, “You should learn as much as you can about the technical aspects of photography and forget them immediately.” Technical considerations act as more of a barrier until they no longer become part of the thought process. Now, I know what you're wondering, Why did Digital Photo Pro slip Lesko a laptop while he was taking a nice rest in the state hospital?

Shoot, Shoot, Shoot!

The truth is that as much as we need to be technically proficient, it's that very knowledge that can be a factor in constraining us from our best and most creative work. Technical considerations at the forefront of our minds only can serve to get in the way of seeing what's in front of us and delaying our reaction time. While trying to shoot brilliant images, we're often distracted by the technical checklist. The learning phase of any photographer's career will undoubtedly be the time of the most self-doubt. The only effective way to combat this is to shoot, shoot and shoot!

The more you employ your technical knowledge, especially in a myriad of different situations, the more it will become a part of your subconscious. The photos I found in my attic were better because I was technically unhindered. As soon as I learned more about the technology of photography, I had more to worry about going wrong. Of course, had I not sought more knowledge, I'd have remained in a state of arrested development with a million similar-looking photos all shot at the exact same time of day. Ah, magic hour!


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