Taking it further...

Posted: Monday, January 10, 2011 by Stained in Labels:

I am a huge critic of people who don’t take their photography that one step further when given an opportunity on a platter. I’ve assisted at over two dozen workshops for Gulf Photo Plus and every single time I’m disappointed by how easily the people get delighted with a rather ordinary picture they’ve taken. Now I understand if a beginner gets satisfied easily, that’s acceptable to a certain level. But if the same applies to the wannabe crowd who are going around doing shoots for clients and shooting half naked women portfolios (the wanker crowd as I fondly call them) professionally, then that is a complete disgrace to the creative err… process that photography is (I almost called it an art *facepalm*). Now I’d go on ranting about the trash some of these wankers are doing in the name of photography, but that’s meant for another post.

From what I’ve seen, people tend to approach a day of photography with a single concept cemented in their head i.e. I assume that before stepping out of the house they tell themselves ‘Today I shall shoot blurry water (for example) and that’s it’. As I had once stated on a local photography forum, limiting yourself creatively is the worst way to learn even if you’re trying to perfect that specific skill. That statement and some similar critique caused a racket and I think I was told to grow up or something along that line which is usually how they end an argument with me (my young age annoys some people).

What I believe is that instead you should limit yourself with the equipment you use. I personally own an array of lenses and also have access to some of the best Canon lenses available in the market. I instead choose to limit myself to just one lens especially on a day I’m feeling rather creative. This lens is usually a prime lens or a zoom with a specific zoom range i.e. ultra wide or telephoto. The advantage to limiting yourself with equipment is that you take that extra effort to compose your picture because you don’t have the ability to change lenses depending on the subject. This makes you rethink your composition, move around, stop and stare, experiment and get frustrated till you either give up or get that perfect shot (in your opinion obviously). Anyone who does this, irrespective of their skill level, will see a HUGE improvement in the way they shoot. This will give you the ability to work on the edge even when you’re not limited by equipment. This is something many other pro level photographers promote as well.

Let me throw an example at you.

The left image is the typical picture most photographers I’ve come across would capture at this given situation. In fact, two people with me took a similar if not the same picture as this one. It isn’t a bad picture by a long stretch; it is a pleasing and a perfect representation of what the tree really looks like though in my opinion it fails to stand out. It’s just another tree in the middle of the road shot if you know what I mean though I do love the shadows on the ground.

Moving to the second image, this is my interpretation of the same scene. On this particular day, I had decided to only use my Sigma 24mm f1.8; a lens that allows me to achieve a short depth of field while being able to get very close to my subject. To me personally it makes the tree look creepy. The feedback I’ve received regarding this picture has been more then positive which I suppose means I’ve done a good job. It’s a different shot that makes people notice it, it’s not just another shot of a tree….

In the end this is a my point of view, people may or may not agree with it but due to personal experience and advice to others, I’ve learned that this limiting factor does in fact allow you to take your photography a step forward.


  1. Anonymous says:

    This seems somewhat hypocritical.

    Your discrediting other photographers for not pushing themselves, expanding their horizons or what have you. Fine. Yet, barely 10 days ago you took a photo that "[you've] shot a million times before". Surely you see the contradiction.

    I do agree with the advancement of creativity, but I strongly object with ego stroking, pretentious "artistry".


  1. Stained says:

    "The reflection adds a whole new dimension to this scene, something I've shot a million times before." - Here I am talking about taking a million shots of the same scene and not taking the same shot a million times. It does seem otherwise but it's just the way I type/talk. My bad...

    A scene might have been shot by me a million times and if I took the same picture every single time, I'd discredit myself on the spot. But the question is am I really doing that. Here's a link to shots I've personally been happy about from the same scene...


    Different interpretation (in my opinion) but not through a drastically different composition, but by the way I exposed and processed it which in turn did decide how I was going to compose my shot. It's a whole thought process of just sitting there and waiting for the right moment to click the picture like for example in the second shot, I waited for half an hour for the water to settle down to get that almost perfect reflection.

    And don't attack me for this, but pretentious artistry is a part of creative development. It's like the HDR hole that a lot of people go through in photography, but you have to go there to realize what a idiot you were...

    Cheers... :)

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