Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Approximately Ten Commandments of Digital Photography

1.  Thy shalt follow Hero's Journey Mythology in rocking thine art. (Myths and creeds are heroic struggles to comprehend the truth in the world. --Ansel Adams) Thou shalt shoot something most every day.  Thou shalt carry a camera and keep one in thy car, if only to pull over and catch that most unique sunset or magnificent thunderheads.  "I missed every shot I never took," said Hockey great Wayne Gretsky, and the same spirit applies to the art of photography.

2.  Thou shalt play as thou develop thine very own style! There is no one right way to shoot!  Ansel Adams: "There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs."  Thou shalt constantly try different things in finding and optimizing your own style.  Thou shalt shoot raw and jpeg, video and stills.  Thou shalt try out ND filters, polarizing filters, UV filters and more.  Every camera does raw and jeg a bit differently, in different conditions, and software allows you to finish photos differently.   Thou shalt have fun playing around--leaning towards JPEGs when you know it's what you want and are trying to increase yer camera's burst rate for action photography, and towards RAW when ye need to do detailed post-processing.  Only ye can determine what works best for ye, and only ye can find this by playing.    "Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force ...of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit."  –Ansel Adams

3.  Thou shalt not regret mistakes for too long, but bear them in mind as ye take remembrances of them into the next shoot, so as to improve.  "There is always another wave coming," says the surfer, while Sir Richard Branson stated, "Business opportunities are like buses--there's always another one coming."

4.  It's not about the camera.  Ansel Adams:  "I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can!" Thy shalt humble thyself before thy subject, be it a model or landscape.  "It's not about the bike," stated cycling great Lance Armstrong.  Seek the soul of beauty--the aesthetic transcending the material.  Do not begin by worrying about technique too much, but advance by boldly pursuing beauty.  Ansel Adams: "There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept."  Vincent Van Gogh: "I detest writing or talking about technique in general . . . That art is something which, though produced by human hands, is not wrought by hands alone, but wells up from a deeper source, from man's soul, while much of the proficiency and technical expertise associated with art reminds me of what would be called self-righteousness in religion. . . My strongest sympathies in the literary as well as in the artistic field are with those artists in whom I see the soul at work most strongly."

5.  Thou shalt seek to serve with thy art.  Thou shalt seek to first and foremost give, as art works best in the spirit of sharing and giving.  Work first and foremost not for money, but for that which inspires ye, and then give back by giving your work freely, and so shall ye build a brand of beauty.  Always keep the higher ideals above the bottom line, lest the bottom line drag on down the higher ideals.  Vincent van Gogh:  "How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?"  Ansel Adams: "My approach to photography is based on my belief in the vigor and values of the world of nature—in the aspects of grandeur and of the minutiae all about us. I believe in growing things, and in the things which have grown and died magnificently. I believe in people and in the simple aspects of human life, and in the relation of man to nature. I believe man must be free, both in spirit and in society, that he must build strength into himself, affirming the "enormous beauty of the world" and acquiring the confidence to see and to express his vision. And I believe in photography as one means of expressing this affirmation, and of achieving an ultimate happiness and faith."

6.  Thou shalt attend to business matters each and every day.  Thou shalt add to your social media sites, work on leads, set up a print-selling site, incorporate, get new business cards, attend a seminar or festival.  Thou shalt register those domain names and upload to the print-selling sites, which thou hast been putting off.  "Carpe diem!" stated the great poet Horace.  "Seize the day!"  For cruel time--your greatest asset--is fleeing on by ye, and once gone, 'tis gone 4ever.  Vincent van Gogh: "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."

7.  Thou shalt take time out to concentrate on your passions and dreams, and build your business about that which inspires you most.  It may be hard, but if you can fin the precepts, principles, an ideals backing yer vision, ye shall endure; as ideals and beauty are immortal and buoy us on through the stormiest of seas, while all the gold that weighs ships on down sinks.  Ansel Adams: I'm interested in expressing something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.

8.  Thou shalt keep photography fun.  Thou shalt mix it up.  If ye are shooting models all week, go for a hike or run though the canyons/woods with a camera.  Seek out bookstores and flip through a half dozen photography magazines a couple times a week, seeking tips and inspiration.  "The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun," goes an ancient surf parable.  "The best photographer out there is the one having the most fun," goes a new photographer's parable. :)

9.  Thou shalt try new things and embrace and surf cutting-edge technology.  This is not to say that the technology is greater than the art of photography--far from it--but thou shalt enjoy mastering various buttons and options on thy camera, keeping in mind that never has learning from mistakes been so inexpensive, as once ye have the camera, sd/cf cards, and hard drives, all trying new things cost is a bit of time, as opposed to dark room time/developing costs.  Vincent van Gogh:  "What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"

10.  Thou shalt invest in excellent equipment.  Once again, time is yer most valuable asset, and spending $500 or $1000 extra on a lens or camera will add that much quality to each and every shoot over the lifetime of your equipment--often several years!   So when ye invest $1000 extra in equipment, ye are investing $1,000 * 100 shoots, even if ye only shoot once a week for two years.  Ye can make that $1,000 back, but never can ye retrace those two years of shooting.

11. Thou shalt rock on!

Be curious to hear reflections/comments! :)

"We set out after truth and beauty, and up doing art, as we find nothing else will do." --Dr. Elliot McGucken