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Why and How: Avoiding the 3 Fundamental Errors in Photography – Part 2

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Sunrise over the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia. Photograph in color by Amar Guillen, artist photographer.
Sunrise over the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia.

Error #2 to Avoid in Photography: Not Having a Good Reason to Create Your Photos

Strangely enough, when I ask photographers why they take pictures, the only answer they can give me is a long introspective silence.

Have you ever asked yourself this essential question of why you practice photography?

Answers such as to relax, take my mind off things, think about something else are quite commendable. I have nothing to object. But for me they are totally insufficient.

If you do not have a photographic Why, because that is what it is all about, you are committing one of the three fundamental errors of photography and that photographic Why must be solid.

The reason is simple. If you do not know why you are doing something, you are not close to reaching a goal and setting creative goals.

In the context of photography, without a strong photographic Why you will not succeed in creating relevant, consistent and coherent series over time.

Your Photographic Why will profoundly define why you take your camera and go into the field.

Without it, you will certainly create some interesting pictures sometimes, but it will be episodic and totally random. The photographic Why is your main strength, it is like a motto that will allow you to define your attachment to photography. It is the one that will motivate you, push you to move forward, to always go further.

The photographic Why is finally the image of your life. You have probably already asked yourself what the meaning of your life is, why you get up every morning, why you chose certain paths. Well, for your photographic activity you have to proceed in the same way.

If you have not already done so, I advise you to clearly and precisely define your photographic Why.

You will thus avoid one of the three fundamental mistakes in photography. You will only be able to improve yourself and create interesting photos for your audience.

Error #3 to Avoid in Photography: Not Being in the Action

In the description of the first two mistakes to avoid, I have given you some advices on how to find simple solutions. Reading, learning, thinking is an excellent start to developing a method.

But never forget that acting will really enable you to be effective and achieve real results.

This is not only true in the definition of your photographic artistry or your photographic Why, it is also true in all fields.

I will always remember meeting a photographer in Yosemite, California. I was taking some landscape photos when he approached me to start a conversation.

I remember I could not say a word. He asked me why I was not photographing the waterfalls that were so numerous in this region.

I did not have time to answer him that he was already explaining the technique of long exposure to create a dreamlike and unreal atmosphere with the waterfalls.

For almost 15 minutes, he gave me a lecture on the pros and cons of this photo technique by explaining the choice of photo filters, the right speed, the calculation of exposure time, the management of depth of field, the composition.

In the meantime, he had taken out his phone to show me his photographic portfolio. Not seeing any long exposure photos, I asked him if he could show me some so that I could see how this expert was applying all his know-how. I think it is always good to learn from others.

I was very surprise that he had not realized one yet. He had an encyclopedic culture on the technical subject, but he had not acted.

I could multiply this kind of example, but I think you understood what I meant.

During my photo workshops I always tell the participants that:

  • Knowledge without action is worthless.
  • Learning without application is useless.

I advise you to always learn and deepen your knowledge, but to take action to check that you are on the right track.

If you are content to acquire encyclopedic skills on technical subjects without applying them you will be wasting your time.

That's true for:

  • The approach to photographic creation.
  • The shooting.
  • The editing.
  • The development.
  • The printing on paper.
  • The presentation of your photographs.

Always apply what you have learned. Always be in action right after learning.

Finally

I hope you have understood the three fundamental errors in the approach to photographic creation.

For the record, I remind them:

  • The absence of a photographic artistry.
  • The absence of the photographic Why.
  • The lack of action.

I hope I have convinced you that it was essential for you to find answers to these questions or to correct your shortcomings.

You absolutely have to act if you really want to create interesting photos for your audience and viewers. You need to adopt a method by writing down all the ideas on paper or on your computer.

Then, try to come up with simple ideas to implement before you go out into the field.

Then, you will prepare your next sessions or your new photo project according to this method.

Finally, you will apply everything you have learned in the field. You will implement your strategy and methodology.

By avoiding these three mistakes, I guarantee that your photographs will be all the more interesting and will have much more impact. This is what happened to me many years ago now.

Be constant, persevering, and persistent because the road to excellence is long.


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I Want to Help You to Create Interesting Photos