A Duly Noted Artist
DNA “contains the genetic instructions for the development and function of living things.” The main role of DNA is long-term storage of information in our cells. It’s this information that makes us who we are as we grow in life, but unfortunately, DNA doesn’t come laced with instructions on how to take great photos—we have to add that information to our brain cells as our minds develop so we can function as photographers. Those that grasp this concept are on the road to earn the title of a Duly Noted Artist.
One method to help develop our minds is to pick up great photography books and read them for information, especially on how a great photo was created. Another development method is to study a master photographer’s proven techniques in the creation of their images, especially in those books, or by visiting photographic art galleries and study what you see there.
With the exception of identical twins, no two people have the same DNA, so your goal is not to copy someone else, but to study what worked for the specific photographer you admire and what didn’t work for them. Take that information and figure out how it applies, or doesn’t apply, to your own photographic style. Even masters study other masters. No one is ever “too good” as a photographer to learn something new, especially since technology changes every Monday when the Board of Directors meet.
Development requires experience and you can only gain photographic experience through the practice of the craft itself. When I was an active-duty soldier in the Army, we had to qualify with our weapons every year to stay proficient in the proper use, plus accuracy, of that weapon. Photography is no different. You can’t get good at the art of photography if you rarely use your camera gear.
With digital photography today, there is no excuse not to practice photography every chance you get. Gone are the days of film purchases and minilab costs. Digital photography is extremely inexpensive when it comes to the capture of the image on an electronic reusable medium. While there are some great smartphone photographers out there, practice with your professional camera gear, your smartphone won’t make you a better photographer like a professional mirrorless or DSLR camera will.
Another source of great development of your photographic mind is to attend photography workshops. Today, there are more photographers teaching workshops then when I first entered the photography instructor’s role as a workshop host 17 years ago. While I still teach photography workshops, there a many to choose from, so wisely choose one. Look at who the instructor or instructors are, their backgrounds, and the genres of photography they teach.
Every workshop is different. Even I teach various types of photography workshops, from editorial nudes, to fashion, glamour, and even travel photography adventures. Pick the one that works for you and when you attend the workshop, remember, even the instructor is still a student of photography. We are all always learning as technology and methods continue to change in the art of photography. No one photographer knows everything, but good photography instructors are great sources of knowledge in the development of your photographic talent.
Further development of your photographic mind includes constructive critiques to understand what you’ve captured. Critique yourself too. Study your photographs carefully; find the flaws in your photos and discover what worked when you look at your best and worst images from each shoot. This is part of photo editing so you can later edit only your best photos in postproduction. A great photographer’s mantra is to get it right in the camera every time and to understand what worked—and to understand where they failed.
Learn the rules of photography, and if you really want to go the extra mile, take at least one basic college art class to learn the rules of art basics, principles and fundamentals. Once you master the rules, then learn how to break at least one rule or more in one photographic capture effectively. If you do this properly, you’ll probably wind up with at least one masterpiece photograph worthy of an art gallery exhibition.
Basically the development of your mind to make you a DNA photographer is to increase your photographic knowledge and experience to allow you to function effectively with your camera gear. The idea is gain the abilities to capture great photographs, not mediocre pictures. We can all take pictures, especially with smartphones, but very few photographers can capture great masterpieces without knowledge and experience.
The photographers that build on their photographic knowledge and experience will excel beyond their peers and allow them to function with great consistency in the creation of their images. When a photographer can function with consistency, it’s said that photographer has a unique photographic style. It’s this unique photographic style that will allow that photographer to earn the title of a Duly Noted Artist.
With that I close, and as always, I ask that you don’t forget the men and women who patriotically serve to protect our freedoms, including our ability to photograph life. God bless them, their family and friends, Rolando