Thoughts on Photography...

Shannon Reed


I'm certain each photographer has a method to their madness; it's what makes us who we are in our roles as picture makers and/or as artists (there is a difference there, for sure). I feel like I've had this conversation enough that I'd like to touch on it a bit here. Not in a defensive way - hopefully - but more to provide insight to those who may not be in the know. So - a couple of things I'd like to myth-bust ...

First:  There is no "right" way or "wrong" way to take pictures.  It's true that there are certain relative equations which result in a "perfect exposure", but a lot of photographers don't like perfect so we go under or over to our liking - like adding spice to a recipe. Also, there's that wonderful rule of thirds to consider when composing.  I've ignored both rules in the photo above - purposely - and I happen to really love the image.  I'm rebellious like that. ")  

Second:  Being a good photographer doesn't require one to have the best equipment or amass every lens, body, or gadget under the sun.   You could easily spend more than you'd make in a couple of years on equipment and that, gentle reader, would be a huge mistake. The gear is a trap: Shiny, pretty things that make you swoon and somehow convince you that you'll be the best photographer in the world if you can just - get - one - more ... {insert that item here}.  

One of the most valuable things you can do if photography is your thing {serious or not}, is to determine what it is you like to take pictures of.  I don't know too many folks who love to do it all.  In fact, I've typically found that portrait photographers don't particularly like doing landscapes - and vice versa.  Knowing what you're drawn to and tailoring your equipment to what you're most inclined to shoot will save you buku dinero.  Just because you can buy all the things, doesn't mean you should.  

I made that mistake a few times - especially with lighting. I HATE artificial light, and yet I was buying a bunch of light kits because I thought I had to - and because I didn't think I'd be a "real" photographer without them. That's just nonsense. Some of the best photographers in the world use only available light; it's a personal choice and it's as simple as that.

I know one photographer who travels with a carload of gear to their shoots, sets up elaborate lighting schemes, and takes hours to do a shoot because (and they have said this) they feel like they won't be taken seriously if there's no big production for the client. And that's cool - their choice. I'm pretty much the exact opposite of that.  Last night when I was getting ready to meet Saige {up there}, my friend said, "Do you need to go to your car to get your gear?" I said I had everything I needed - indicating the small tote I'd been carrying - and he seemed genuinely surprised. I like to think of myself as a photography ninja - swift, accurate, and nimble.  

Third: It's not {entirely} about the equipment. You've probably heard how we photographers get our noses bent out of shape when someone sees our work and says, "Wow! You must have a great camera!" To which we respond, "When you have a really good meal, do you tell the chef he must have a really good stove?" So, two things on that - A., it's not about the equipment. If you're a good photographer, then you should be able to make a decent image with any camera and in pretty much any lighting. Period. Exclamation point. Make that two exclamation points. And, B., it's less about the camera and more about the glass - so, if you're going to make an investment, your money is better spent on a good lens. Finding "your" lens is like finding your soulmate - it's a beautiful thing and you should have a long and happy life together.

So back to methods and madness - it all really just comes down to personal choice. The end. No, really - I have to get out of here and go and edit, because that's really what most photographers spend their time doing.  ")