It's All Basic Photography in the Digital Age

In the old days a photographer who wanted to be more than a point and shoot photographer spent years learning how and why the film process worked. He spent endless hours in the field, in the darkroom and in books and magazines. In the process he often learned to record and reproduce good images.

Today with point and shoot and see even before you shoot what you will get. You don't even have to wait or develop or hopefully be disappointed at what you get. You see in the LCD finder what are recording.

So, why are people still shooting snapshots and home movies as bad as they did with film? Missing in the process is the trial and error and learning how a camera works because in the past the photographer need to know how the camera worked to get decent results.

The photographer doesn't have to learn why his camera works, but must learn how to control it to shoot decent pictures. A sense of composition, contrast control, etc doesn't come packed with the camera and accessories. That has to be learned. Getting instant results doesn't mean that they are any good. Too often if we get a recognizable image of what we think we saw we are happy. Friends and professional photographers are often too polite to comment about all the mistakes we made.

The digital video and still camera has made learning easier, but not instant.

Recording good images for magazines, movies, video, home movies or home videos are all photography. I recommend learning to shoot good individual images because good images are important to communicating. Still photographers have to say with one image what the film or video person can with a series of images.

Why learn to make single good images first? To convey a more powerful message. Good movies are one good image after another. Home movies and videos are one marginal image after another. Special effect editing can't make bad image any betters. They only disguise poor images and distract the viewer.

The still photographer has an advantage of being freed from the concerns of sound. He usually works alone and can concentrate just on his images. The film and video person has a much more difficult situation and more distractions to deal with.

So, I highly recommend that the would-be shooter shoot until good images flow from his camera almost without thinking. That takes time, practice and trial and error. It doesn't come from just reading books and talking like a Hollywood filmmaker. It takes going out and shooting and shooting and shooting some more.

Who am I to say? I shot stills for over 10 years before shooting any moving film. My first boss got me my first 3 jobs in the business because I worked many more hours than paid for, was humble and had usable skills.

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.