“Personally, my #1 pain point in photography is post processing. At times, its fun to do it though. Have tons of images pending since 2009. I guess its the same with most.”
This is what a good friend commented on facebook which got me thinking. I capture images for a living. I choose this as a profession over a blue collared job of peddling enterprise software products. This also means that I don’t have Monday morning blues of any sort and I would wake up post a party at 5 am in the morning to chase a sunrise with my camera without a frown and I can practically go with 3 hours of sleep and 16 hours of shooting every day till I drop dead. Yes it pays; But thats not my motivation to pick up my camera and burn myself. I see this world a lot better through my viewfinder. The most painful thing or the mundane incident looks way more interesting through a viewfinder for me. The life as I see through a viewfinder has made me a saner person..a better person. I personally feel this is my calling.
Right !! now that I’ve established the fact that I adore what I do for a living.. What do I do to spend that much of time behind the camera ? When I started out in photography, I thought spending truck loads of time over technicalities and the science of light will get me there. Over the years, I’ve realised that though all the fundamental light science is important in your story telling methodology; if you get obsessed with just the techincalities of this form of art, end of the day, the image you created is just that. A collection of perfect techincalities, done well (or not).
Like the famed medical statement “Operation Success, Patient Dead” ..In this mad conquest for the “Perfect” shot , people end up going to such obsessive levels of technicalities, that they only see the technicalities.. they stop seeing the story unfold in front of them…Whts wrong with a some blur or a completely shaken frame ? Doesn’t the picture itself do justice if it can convey the desired message the photographer intended it to convey ? Does that mean, I chrun out crappy images one after the other in the name of art !? May be Yes..May be No.. I pretty much don’t care what the critics think. This is my personal journey.
I realised as an individual, pretty much everyone in this world has an ability to tell stories. Some do this visually. My visual learning started by honing my eye to see the story amidst the mundane around me. I realised that I can do this better, if I stopped obsessing over technicalities and start opening my mind and seeing clearly. I know this sounds a tad little too philosophical. Even a great technical book on photography like “Light, Science and Magic” (which my good friend says will appeal to the left brainy types), starts with the lines “We will be more bored than flattered if reading this book causes you to make pictures that look like ours. For better or worse, you have to build your own pictures on your own vision.”
Does that mean I care two hoots about all the aperture talk, ISO talk, Post Production madness, Gear Talk and what not ? No.. These are my fundamental tools and technique I choose to use to enhance and better my story telling. Though I dont obsess over it, I take great pains in learning it and practicing it…repeatedly..So when this absolutely gorgeous frame presents infront of my viewfinder; all these fundamental tools and techniques subconsciously kick in, where as my conscious mind is still watching TV through my viewfinder.
Mind you ! All these technical techniques and tools dont start moving to your sub-conscious with out regular practice, implementation and discipline. I read manuals of all my equipments. I even buy off market manuals for my camera to know my equipment better. If you want great sex, you need to know your partner better ! Every time I hit a road block, I go back to my manuals to work on it. I obsess over my workflow. Photography workflow does’nt start with your finger hitting the shutter release nor does it end when the shutter comes down. There is a wide world before and after. I’ve spent atleast 24 hours in training myself in my editing tools. This is not to become a graphic designer or an visual artist but to shoot better,longer and without spending loong hours in front of a computer. Like a quality manager in a shop floor of a manufacturing unit I keep revisitng every minute detail of my workflow; from my packing lists,basic research on my shoot, file import protocol, folder structure, new features in my editing tools and a lot more. This saves me precious time and gives me more viewfinder time and brain space to think. This rant doesnt limit to a seasoned pro or a serious amateur. It applies to anyone who calls photography and seeing thru that magical box as a passion.
If you are reading this, do understand the next time when you talk to me, in short this what I mean when I say “I am a Photographer”…