Photography has been a big part of my creative process in life for the past five years. When I was in high school it was required we take at least one art class, though we were allowed to chose. I had originally tried to take the fundamental art class but found I couldn’t handle the coursework alongside everything else I was doing at the time, mainly due to stress and poor time management skills. It wasn’t until a few years after that I decided to take the introductory photography course my high school offered. It was there I found my passion for art.
My first real experience with photography involved a 1984 Canon T70 SLR film camera. I actually bought this camera from a commercial photographer in Fredericksburg who was updating his equipment, choosing to sell his old cameras instead of merely throwing them away. Though I cannot remember his name, I talked to this man for two hours about different types of cameras and photography techniques. He actually gave me a choice between three cameras, two of which took the old mercury batteries you can no longer find, and the third being the Canon. I’ll admit, I mainly chose this camera since it took AA batteries, which are much easier to find than the substitute mercury batteries they make that can fry a camera in a single shot. Since I’d never used a camera before, I wanted to play it safe.
Safe turned out to be a really good option. I was taught the basics of my camera, learning how to properly use aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, flash, and light balance. From there we only used Tri-X black and white 35mm film, which we shot whole roles of and developed by hand. Afterwards we were invited to experiment in the darkroom, where we stumbled around in the dark until our eyes grew accustomed to the red-light, using enlargers to create contact sheets, and finally prints.
Photography became the artistic medium that I had sought after for most of my life. Since then I’ve used many different types of cameras, both film and digital, to create new and interesting pictures. While I don’t take as many pictures now due to college and my job, I still go out in my free time and take pictures. Often times I like to buy a roll of film and think of a theme for that roll. Since 35mm only allows you to take between 35 and 36 shots, you have to be very particular about your shots. And film isn’t that cheap, so you must you want to make sure you don’t overexpose or underexpose too many of your shots, or else your film will look like it was washed out, being too light or dark. I’ll admit to having ruined an entire roll of film before. I was mad, but I got over it and carried on. I did keep those negative though, wanting to use them for future projects to combine images the old fashioned way.
The one camera I use more often now is my Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR camera. This is a digital camera that was given to me as a gift and has many different shooting modes to capture a wide variety of shots. I mainly use the manual modes though, since I was taught the old fashioned way and am very critical about the pictures I take.
I normally don’t have a particular type of photography, theme, or feeling, I like to capture. Instead I like to take whatever picture captures my attention in the heat of the moment. This means I tend to do street photography, however I also enjoy studio shots in a controlled setting. I’ve also been experimenting with night photography, but since the rules that govern those shots are totally different than shots taken in the daytime, it’s been hard. However, nature and landscape photography has also been a favorite of mine. Ansel Adams has been a huge inspiration for me, as well as many others in the Group F/64.
One thing I’ve learned about photography is that an image can tell a story all on it’s own. Using methods like the Rule of Thirds, S-Curves, and Leading Lines can draw the eye’s attention and tell a story. The same can be said for action shots, which capture an action or figure in motion. One of the things we used to do in my photography classes was pick two or three images and discuss our creative process, why we took that shot, and our reasoning behind it. The narrative of an image isn’t merely about the content, though that is a huge part of it. You can take images of things as simple as random objects and derive meaning from it. To me, it’s more about the meaning the viewer gets from an image and what you can take away from it. This is why you can use a series of images to tell a story, and why a photography portfolio can have a much larger meaning. I actually have a photography portfolio available on Flickr that I won an award for in high school. I invite others to look at it and see what you take away from it without reading the description.
I think after reviewing the readings that I’m going to try my hand at photography more often. I want to try and create more digital photographs with as much meaning as my black and white prints. I also want to learn more about photo editing. While I’m not going to purchase Photoshop, I do know Photopea, a free clone of Photoshop. I want to see if I can use it and generate some truly amazing images sometime in the near future.