We have become a nation of narcissistic voyeurs. Ever since we realized that we could hold the smartphone up to a mirror and capture our own likeness, there has been an earth shattering change in photography. This has been exacerbated by the newer smartphones that can take a picture backwards, so we don’t even need a mirror! In fact, just how often do you now see young women applying their make-up, using the viewing screen while holding up their phones? All the time, is the correct answer.
Pro photographers do not rely on one zoom lens, even if it could cover 18-800 with one flick. Pro photographers will have many lenses, but there will be enough prime lenses to almost cover that 18-800!
Two common words in photography are ‘sharp’ and ‘soft’, and photographically speaking there is an enormous difference between them. Those terms are the ones reserved for describing whether the final image is well focused. We speak about ‘sharp’ focus and ‘soft’ focus and everyone knows what is meant.
Last week I covered the amazing Weegee. A photographer who never flinched taking shots of people who had been shot. Weegee was photographing the end result of people’s misfortune. He did not make the viewer wonder about the situations he photographed. By comparison, let us look at another artist/photographer who is remembered for his ability to record the human psyche in all its shallowness (and complexity). This is Andy Warhol (1928-1987), a complex character himself, and probably even deeper than Cartier-Bresson.
It has been said for many years that the photojournalists’ creed is “f 8 and be there!” Interestingly, nobody knows who first uttered those words and applied them to journalism, but they remain pertinent, even today in the instant digital age.
Last week I used the photo I am using again this week, because it is such a good example of making your subject the “hero”. This shot was taken by an amateur in the UK and he could see that he had a great subject with Peter Fonda on the chopper from the 1969 movie Easy Rider which starred Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.
The digital evolution has progressed to the digital revolution, and with each new “app” (how I dislike that contraction), the art of photography is being murdered. You can now get rid of warts, wrinkles around the eyes, grey hair, poor focus, wrong exposure and all the other factors that make for inferior photographs, and all with the click of a mouse. I’m sorry, but this is not “photography”.
One of my correspondents overseas brought an app to me attention. (Actually I dislike the very word “app” - what was wrong with “application”?) Now I realize that “change” is inevitable, but I have this more than sneaking suspicion that the “apps” surrounding photography are taking away “reality”. The “virtual” world is taking over. Soon there will be nothing that we can actually trust.
A good camera is an expensive investment. However, like many expensive purchases you can save a bundle if you look at second hand, rather than brand new. But is it worth it with photographic gear? I say yes!
If you ever see a secondhand book on photography - buy it! Sure it will have chapters on color photography as something ‘new’ and also home developing B&W pix in the bath tub, but there will also be some excellent advice on how to take better photographs.