There is a difference. The workshop I am starting up today is not “basic photography”, in the sense of photography for just beginners. Rather, if the word “basic” must be used to describe it, it is the “basics of photography”, in the sense that we may already be highly creative, have an excellent eye for the image we want, and take beautiful photographs on a regular basis, but we still have a weakness in the technical aspects of how photography works.
Photography is intriguing in that way: it is both highly creative and highly technical. You have to have a feel for the image, and eye for what to capture, but you also have to have a solid understanding of the technical aspects of how cameras and lenses work. That technical understanding will unlock knew realms of creativity, or, at the very least, help you mess-up fewer photos.
Yesterday, I took the scenic route back to my parking spot. I was just running a normal errand and had my one-year-old in my arms. Sure, we accidentally parked a little too far away initially, but that had nothing to do with the scenic route. The mood, history, and culture of downtown Temple, Texas inspired us to take a slightly less direct path back to the car…just for the beauty of the moment. I was less concerned with taking photos than I was with enjoying a few extra minutes of the day. What I received was more enjoyable and eye opening than I expected.
The “Learning to See” in the title is a reference to Chris Marquardt’s Learning to See Workshops. Not that I have been to a workshop, but I have listened to his Tips from the Top Floor podcast quite a bit, and really appreciate his approach to photography. I could not agree more with his website byline: “learn to see”. How we experience life, what we notice, and the learned ability to switch perspective are key ingredients to the quality of photography we produce. I learned a lesson in learning to see on that scenic walk back to the car.
I struck up a conversation with a high school student last Friday, noticing him working on editing a movie. Turns out, he was doing the final cutting for a student-made film which was a part of a theater class project (Harker Heights High School in Killeen Texas) and would be shown at their film festival the next day.
We talked about video, films, photography, and such. He asked me if I had done any video. Though very little, I have played around with it some. He told me I really ought to give them something of mine to show in the film festival as well. Why not? It would be something different for them: all theirs are full cast and crew types of productions, whereas mine is a one man show used mostly for creative experimentation.
I was digging through a box of stuff a friend left—I find myself doing this fairly often here in China, we leave little traces of our lives all around the place—and found a Polaroid camera and one cartridge of film, or paper, or whatever you call it for Polaroid. I have been excited ever since seeing it, and I can just feel that it will be the perfect ten pieces of paper to record a special upcoming life change.
For one, Polaroid is just cool. I remember wanting to shoot one when I was a kid when seeing some friend of my brother with one, but I was simply too little to be trusted, I guess. I have never pulled the trigger (more true than I ever knew till just recently, they really do have a trigger kind of mechanism) on a Polaroid. And second, I only have ten shots. That is just exciting in itself.
Serving to a Fault,
Defaulting to Service.
A life spent striving to be spent
Poured out as an offering.
A farm girl caught in a city life,
Primal simplicity wasted not
On the severed souls she helped.
O, that we too could find simpleness.
That we have,
In the picture of love among us,
Like the servant farmer before her,
The daughter’s incense rises above.
The other day, a friend of mine was showing the photos from his daughter’s wedding. Initially, I was only in the same room and enjoying some conversation with someone else, but then I started to realize how incredible the photos really were. I asked who had taken them, because the wedding was out here in Asia and (believe me) a little out of the way to find a nice wedding photographer. Unknowingly, I had asked the photographer, herself.
Assuming, from the quality of the photos, she was an experienced photographer, I actually asked how she used her flash to balance the light so beautifully. After a brief exchange, which I still have a hard time processing, I found out she had used a regular, old point-and-shoot camera! How could it be?