It was the autumn of 1945. The shopkeeper from the corner shop, wanted to photograph a beautiful sunset just outside of his town. He had loaded his car with his tripod, view camera and some film backs. This had been a regular exercise for the past few days. Unfortunately for him, every evening there would be thunderstorm and the trip would get cancelled. Today he had loaded his regular equipment in the car. There were some scattered clouds but nothing to spoil his plans. An hour before the sunset, he set out in his car and reached the high point just outside of the town. Setting up the camera took a few more minutes. The beautiful scene in front of him was now visible up-side-down on the ground glass of his old view camera. At the exact moment, he loaded the film back, took a picture. Reversed the film back and took another picture. Loaded everything back into the car and reached back. He now had captured the photograph that he had visualized many days back.
This story was real for many photographers in the early days. Each photograph required meticulous planning. The photographers took few shots and created masterpieces. With the good quality film rolls becoming popular, the number of images that could be captured increased exponentially. The film rolls sometimes had the capacity of more than 20 exposures. 35mm films had still higher number of exposures. Now with the memory cards, the number of images that can be captured is really high. Every time I see memory cards in shops, I see them with higher and higher capacities.
The high capacity memory cards and inexpensive cameras have led to a flood of photographs all around us. Most of them are duplicates triplicates of the original idea. Quite a lot of them clicked in an attempt to get at least one good shot, as if by magic. This is terrible. What it has done is that now the photographers have been replaced by consumers of photography cameras (Who is a Photographer?).
When I talk to people who click these hundreds and thousands of images, explanations pour out. The most common reason that people give is that they are creating memories of these moments and not exactly works of art. I agree but why can’t these moments be work of arts too? My motto – click few pictures but click them nicely. Visualize your images and then press the shutter release button. Henri Cartier Bresson also captured moments but he did not churn out thousands of useless images. Get involved, be a part of the scene and then capture that moment which touches your heart.
Do these if you really want to create memories –
- Know your camera and use it properly instead of experimenting all the time and hoping to end up with a few good snaps (Knowing my camera).
- Use low capacity memory cards. The knowledge that the number of exposures is limited, increases the chances of getting good photographs.
- Click raw and post-process images individually. This will help you contemplate on each captured frame and improve your skills as a photographer in the days to come.
- Start printing photos. Do not keep them stored on hard-disks forever. Printing pictures is important. In fact, one of the books in the three book series by Ansel Adams, is on Prints.
Recently I was discussing with a photographer about his photos. Most of them were there on his computer’s hard disk and on a back-up hard disk (This was music to my ears. Back-ups are vital). Then he went on to explain that there were pictures on three-four of his memory cards which he had used few weeks back and not yet transferred to computer. There were photos on the memory card in the camera from the last week. He had many photos on his phone from the last 5 months. Few of these had been transferred to a linked cloud storage. Some photos were there on his old phone which needed to be transferred to his computer. Despite of him being an organized guy, his photos were scattered all around. Everyone I know, seems to be in the same boat.
Get your photos organized. Organizing hundred photos is easier than organizing a few thousand photos. So, click few good photos instead of shooting everything in front of the camera. Delete the ones that you don’t need from your computer. There’s no use of storing raw files of all those blurred images which you skip through when showing the photos to your family members. One small tip that I give is to delete the unused photos after a couple of years and not immediately. Sometimes these not-so-good images start appearing fine as times passes by.
Take one shot and make that shot count. I always compare good photographers to trained marksmen. On the other hand, the photographers who shoot hundreds of photographs, hoping that a few would turn out fine are like a blind-folded person firing an automatic gun and hoping to hit the target.
(Marie – a close friend and an accomplished musician. I captured this moment when she called up a friend of hers and was anticipating a happy news. The smile is starting to form and the eyes are focused at a distance, while concentrating on the voice on her phone. This is one of the three images that I clicked of hers. Nikon D200 with Sigma 105mm lens.)
Photographers end up developing a sixth sense with time when it comes to good photographs. The compositions start emerging from all around. The visualization improves and the photographs become stronger. Those who are trying to capture that memory or the decisive moment, also get better at predicting it, when there is a limit to how many frames can be shot.
Photographs are created and not just clicked.
Further reading –
Composition Clichés – Part I
Composition Clichés – Part II