What does Photography mean to me?

“Oh, Photography is easy, all you do is take pictures.” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard these words come out of someone’s mouth, I’d be rich. Often times, people don’t understand the complexity of photography. Rapid developments in technology have made taking pictures as easy as clicking a button. Someone technologically challenged can now take pictures “like a pro”. Yes, anyone can take a picture, but can they take consistently good pictures? Photography exists as a profession because there is a need for visually stimulating art- for people to enjoy and/or for usage in marketing campaigns. Better photographic equipment can produce higher quality pictures. The point and shoot camera with a variety of settings may not give the same results as the Digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera with manual controls. Of course, it takes time to learn these controls but once one masters a tool, they can manipulate it to their advantage.

Photography is used in virtually every visual aspect of life. There are a variety of genres in photography, including fashion, sports, weddings, architecture and even food. The two most commonly known mediums of photography, film and digital, are very different from each other. Then there is the terminology. Mention aperture, shutter speeds, ISO, and resolution to a bunch of non-photographers and they will probably shake their heads in confusion. These are all terms that are extremely useful to know when it comes to composing and taking a picture. Manual dexterity is needed in photography as well as a good sense of color and composition. The way a subject is placed in photograph can maximize the effect it has on the viewer.

I think the belief that photography is easy comes from the fact that the subjects in a photo are concrete. They are clearly there -you don’t have to think them up in your imagination. People assume that there is no process as with painting or drawing where you need to brainstorm and execute the idea. But there is. For example, at Artists For Humanity, there is an extensive and premeditated process to run a shoot for something such as Teens In Print Newspaper. First, we read all the articles, one after the other, while jotting down possible photographic ideas. Then as a group, ideas are discussed and sorted. Certain things are taken into account- will we have enough space? Enough time? Do we have people that can be photographed? Will this idea be appropriate? And the list of questions continues. After we select ideas, we set up the shoot. The background needs to be adjusted, maybe tripods are set up, lights are set up and turned on, and sometimes reflective boards are set up. After setting up, test shots are taken to determine whether we are ready for shooting or adjustments need to be made. When photos display harsh shadows, underexposure or overexposure, the settings must be altered until they look perfect on the display screen. After a nice variety of shots are taken, the pictures are uploaded and sent to the computer for editing. After editing, the images are sent to the client for approval. This is just a broad description of what goes on in AFH’s photography studio. From this, it is obvious that an image takes careful planning and execution. It takes creativity to come up with a concept that will attract viewers and be aesthetically pleasing. A small mistake can lead to a slew of bad photographs.

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