Leveling Up in Photography

I’ve been reading a lot of books and personal experiences of many photographers around the world. I am also exchanging a lot of information with my friend Barbu, whom I consider to be my “master” in this vast domain of photography. Listening all these opinion, I must admit that it is a little bit scary. Most of the professionals have reached, more or less, the same conclusions concerning the learning curve and how you can actually reach the point where you can say, “Yes I am a photographer”. All these people are offering pretty much the same general advises to us, the n00bs. And it is scary because  I think there is a problem with advisers perspective, which alters the value of all these advises, and sometimes puts us on the wrong tracks. I will explain myself.

First of all, to be clear, I am not talking about tips and tricks. I am talking about the meaning, the very pure artistic value of photography as a for of art.


All the books I’ve read are teaching about the fact that there are around 2 rules of composition in photography plus a thousands more that are in fact exceptions. But, you are advised that the best photography does rarely respects any rule. So, in conclusion, if you want to make photographic
art you need to “understand composition”, which basically means that you need talent, unfortunately… It is the same problem like in the art of painting – all painters are talking about how easy is for a non-talented individual to learn how to draw only by respecting some clear procedures and a few rules. And yes, anyone can draw, but few can actually make Art out of it. As a result I can only conclude that if you don’t have talent, you cannot create voluntary photographic art. Involuntary only. You can follow some rules and procedures, compare online and deliver. You will take a picture that may become really incredible art, but you have no idea why, because you cannot understand your own composition.


Concerning the photographic subject, this is a slightly different story. All the already profesional photographers are talking about the fact that you should take photos of what you like because you cannot be good at shooting everything. So, you are bound  to think that you should follow this golden rule (no wonder that so many photographers run into a block after a while). Well, they are probably right, in the end. But, how can I learn what I like to shoot straight from the beginning. I mean, I love photography and I am very passionate. I think that every single thing in this world deserves a picture. Because, in a certain composition, even a spec of dust on the sensor can tell a story. I like to shoot everything so what am I going to do now?! I am doomed to abandon photography because I will realize in the future that I cannot really take photos of everything in this world? Or maybe just go nuts?! Or, maybe, I will realize one day that in fact I actually have a style and I tell stories by shooting random things? Not only birds, or butterflies or people or streets and landscapes, like I should? Who knows, right?!

Sharing your work is vital. I can see a lot of photographers out there pissed off on people sharing all their pictures on Facebook and ask for likes. And maybe there is a good reason behind this attitude. Still, I think it is much worse not to share. Which in my opinion is much more self-centered than sharing all your pictures with the world . Why? Because what a person does with its camera is art.  You don’t just copy a moment in time. You are surprising the reality in an awkward moment and then you “fix” it using you natural talents and forged skills, thus creating Art. From that point on, any artist has the responsibility to share his creation, because without the sharing part, there is no actual Art, which is the soul of the world. It is sacred, like life. Creation has value only if it is recognized as so, by another form of intelligence capable of acknowledging it. Without art, there is no soul. Yes, some Art can be bad, but we need it anyway in order to evolve. You may argue that many artists do not share their work because they understand very well this responsibility and they are afraid of it. Which can be truth. But still, this is not really an excuse, since with each piece of undiscovered art lies a piece of undiscovered soul. Nobody can underestimate the value of soul, does it?!


And now, about the gear. From my point of view, since I am still forming my style andI am still discovering what I like or not like to shot (and I shoot everything), gear is very, very important. I want to experience everything. For that I need a SLR camera or a mirrorless (something that can offer a lot control on technique ), all in one lens, zoom lens, tele lens, prime lens, macro lens, bags, special straps, flashes, difuzers, extra flashes and umbrellas, a macro studio, tripods etc. This is the only way for me to become experienced enough to get to the point where I can say “I am using x, y, z. I don’t need any other type of gear, so the gear does not really matter. The vision does! I am so damn professional than I can shoot with my butthole and still create beautiful art”. Well, when I am so busy learning how to use the damn manual gearbox, what makes you feel that I care about my driving style? I think that order is: equipment and the experience to use it, than vision. If you decide that you don’t really need equipment you can just sell what you don’t need anymore. They served their purpose.

Still, there is a weak point of this line of thoughts and that is the actual human nature. You may invest a gazzilion gold in equipment only to find out later that you are not really talented or that you don’t like photography. While you can still take photos without talent, you must be either an opportunist, either an rich person, either an idiot to try the second variant. And, to be honest, I often ask myself if I am not belonging to one of these last three typologies…

This reminds me about: “Then I realized that I don’t really need so much equipment, because it is not really important, so I bought a Leica M9”. Dfaq?!

This is my perspective as a totally new guy in this field who tries to discover as much as possible and is also forcing himself to believe his wife, his sister and those friends who are all saying that he’s got talent. I’d love to have this artistic talent they think I have. It is the biggest gift a person can get from… It gives a lot of meaning to life,  since it allows one to create art, which can be shared to enrich to the soul of the people.

While a I have a lot more to share, I will sort of stop here and go read a book about photography or get out and take some shots. It is spring, and it is nice and warm, even in Sweden. A lot of flying “bio-objects” are asking for attention, you know…