An Update on “Learning Photographing”
On June 8, I had written a post titled “Learning Photographing… Thoughts/Questions”. First, I want to thank those who have responded – Thank you for your comment! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help.
One question I have asked was: “How do I know I am good enough? How do I validate myself as a photographer?”
Mark (Mark Kertesz Photography) said “In my opinion you are good enough when you are proud of what you have taken. When some emotions are stirred from your photograph you have done your job but it’s all about you. Should others along the way like it that’s great but in my humble opinion no validation is needed just do it because you love it and that will shine through.”
What Mark said makes a lot of sense to me (that’s why I want to share his comment with you here). I like a lot of photos I have taken, but not to the degree of being proud of them. Quite often I would smile at my photos; but I seldom say “Wow” like I do when I see many other people’s photos. This is, actually, good. It gives me a motivation to improve.
I met Tony Cilento the other day when I was waiting for an eye examination. At that time I didn’t know who he is. I was playing with my iPhone camera (whenever I am bored, I play with iPhone camera). Mr. Cilento commented on me taking photos, and right away I knew he is a photographer. I bugged him for some photographing tips and he was kind enough to give me a short lesson. (I know the chance of him reading this is very small. Still, I want to thank Mr. Cilento.) I grabbed the opportunity to show him some of my photos. He looked at them and said, “Your photos have an artistic flair in them.” He said that three times! In a strange way, he has helped me to understand me as a photographer. And that somehow removed some of my uncertainty of becoming one.
But, when I wrote “Learning Photographing… thoughts/Questions”, I wasn’t 100% open to you. Back then, I was confused and somewhat heart broken. And, I was embarrassed to let anyone know how I really felt. If you have read Otto von Münchow’s (In Flow) recent 3 great posts on what photography is: The Heart of Photography, What Does It Matter, and At the End of The Rainbow, you would probably understand my problem better. To make a long story short, at the time I wrote that post, I had just discovered that several of those “wow” photographs I saw were the results of heavy post-processing. There is nothing wrong with post-processing, heavy or not. It was “not knowing” that hurt me.
Now, going back to the subject of improving myself… It makes sense to me that I should sharpen my Photoshop skill (I only know basic stuffs). But part of me resists the idea of becoming a Photoshop expert. What if I start heavily post-processing all my photos and can no longer tolerate any photo that has not being heavily post-processed?
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are people who do minimum post-processing for most of their photos, but once in a while do heavy post-processing for fun. I am worrying about how I will become, that’s all.
I mumble a lot here because I want to take you through some of my thinking process. The end result of this thinking exercise is not too bad: I am no longer confused; I realized that I really like street photograph a lot (even though I am scared to death of doing it); I decided, for now, I should focuse on taking photos only. And Mark is right: I should do it because I love it. Who knows? Someday I may become a Photoshop expert… if that is really what I love to do.