Do You Make or Take Your Photos

The following article was originally published on my website BlueBeyond.com.au. I’ve decided to move it over here for reference.

Recently I read a great book called The Inner Game of Outdoor Photography by Galen Rowell , a renowned outdoor photographer from the US. This book is one of the best photography books I have read, even though it hardly even touches on technical aspects – there are no explanations of apertures and shutter speeds, except in discussing how to capture a particular image.

Instead, this is a book that delves deeply into the “inner process" of photography, and the important philosophical approaches that differentiate the snapshooter from the serious photographer. Irrespective of whether you shoot underwater or topside, outdoors or inside, close-up or wide-angle, your thought processes help you to identify potential subjects, backgrounds, compositional opportunities, lighting approaches and technical requirements to express your vision through a photograph.

One of the things that struck me on reading this book, and set my mind thinking, was that the essence of the language used by Rowell expresses his philosophy. Rowell never uses the phrase “taking a photo“ – instead he contemplates “making a photo”.

From our earliest introductions to photography, we are exposed to the phrase “take a photo", and indeed the common vernacular enshrines this expression as the standard amongst all of us. But if we stop for a minute to consider the expression, we note very quickly that it suggests a passive approach to photography – one of recording the moment.

It is no secret that the vast majority of photographers are snapshooters – people who are simply recording the moment. These “momentary records" have an important place – they show family, friends and scenes that are important to the individuals. They have a context and value to the snapshooter and those close to them. In many cases, however, these momentary records are otherwise unremarkable.

Early Light

Likewise, many underwater photographers are snapshooters, and again, their photos have a meaning to them that is also implied and contextual. They take good photos that trigger a memory for them.

In an effort to move beyond the simple snapshot, we invest time, money and effort into the process of photography. We get better equipment, we study composition and lighting, and we try to take control of the photographic situation. We are no longer passive “takers of photos" – we are looking for more than the momentary record.

We are now actively “making" our photos, not taking them.

To be active in the process of photography, whatever the setting, we need good technical skills, and good equipment. We also need a thorough understanding of our environment, the behaviour of our subjects, and how we can interact responsibly with them. We then need the mental approach to put all that together to make great photos.

Do you take or make photos?

Around the Web for May 22nd through May 30th

These are my Around the Web links for May 22nd through May 30th:

Cronulla Pools at Sunrise

Cronulla Pool at Sunrise

The pools around the beaches on the NSW coastline are stunning locations for photography—especially with the east coast sunrise.

There are dozens of these pools along the Sydney coast, with several picturesque ones at the southern suburb of Cronulla.

This image was made in April 2014 and really brought out the sunrise colours, and the contrast of the smooth waters in the pool with those of the ocean.

This was one of the first sunrise expedition with my Panasonic Lumix GX–7, with the one lens I am currently using—the 20mm non-zoom. I decided to learn the camera first before jumping into a variety of zooms.

View Cronulla Pool at Sunrise on Flickr

View Cronulla Pool at Sunrise on Google+

USS Bonhomme Richard in Sydney

USS Bonhomme Richard at Garden Island

In August 2013 USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 06) paid a visit to Sydney’s Fleet Base East.

Bonhomme Richard is a Landing Helicopter Dock (aka Ambhibious Assault Ship) that is capable of carrying helicopters, STOVL fighters and a large force of embarked marines that can be landed by helicopter or landing craft launched from the LHD’s well deck.

Bonhomme Richard is of a similar size and role as the Canberra class LHDs shortly to be commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy.

Being a large ship, the challenge was to find a suitable location publicly accessible from which to get the whole ship into frame, without too much in the way of foreground distractions.

Being a beautiful Sydney day, the sky and the harbour were both quite blue, so the blue-grey colour of Bonhomme Richard also caused a challenge for contrast.

The old structure in the foreground became a good solution to both problems—it provided colour and depth, without being too distracting. The challenge was to frame it appropriately.

Around the Web for May 1st through May 17th

These are my Around the Web links for May 1st through May 17th: