On Photography And What I Want To Do With My Life
I don’t know what it was that made me want to take a picture everyday of 2010 and post it to a blog. But the simple fact that I did for an entire year tells me something about it clicked with my personality.
It’s the perfect cross between instant gratification and excruciating, focused work. You get the image the split second you push down the shutter, but then you spend hours afterwards bringing out the colors, sharpening, and making the image say what you want it to say. And it’s in that post process that I find a calming balance. The editing process will actually take four or five times longer than the shoot itself, and its usually in a dark, lonely room as opposed to the fun social environment of a photo-shoot. But honestly, editing your photos is just as important and technical as composition and content. You can’t have a good photo if you didn’t take a good shot in-camera, but you also won’t have a good final product without knowing how to post-process. I enjoy both parts because I think they compliment each other. Always being on photo-shoots is fun but it can burn you out. Its like eating sugar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At first it’s awesome, but eventually you need something more tangible with nutrients and substance. Always editing can be rewarding because that’s where you bring out the photo’s full potential, but there’s only so many hours of sitting in front of a computer screen by yourself before you go crazy. You need both to stay sane and be a good photographer.
A lot of people talk about having an “eye” for photography, but there’s also another kind of “eye” that’s important if you want to be a good photographer. And that’s an eye for editing. Some people can just look at a subject and feel the light and know exactly how to make the shot look good. Its like that in editing too. Some people can look at a shot thats already been taken and know the tweaks they could make in order to make that photo really pop. Its a totally case-by-case basis, just like out on a shoot. There’s never a rule or a list of procedure that you can follow that will always give you a good shot. The lighting, subject, time of day, time of year, mood, location, props, wardrobe, action, etc. change on a day to day basis. In fact they’re always different. I think thats why I like taking a photo of the day so much, because it forces you to notice what’s cool and different about today in contrast to yesterday. And you can think about the editing room the same way. You work with contrast, white balance, saturation, vibrancy, fill light, clarity, color, vignetting, hue, highlights, shadows, temperature, and tint. It’s all there right in front of you, just like a subject you are trying to take a picture of. Anybody can push a button to take a picture, and anybody can move a slider in Lightroom or Photoshop and change an element of a picture. But not everybody can see all of the options available and know intrinsically what combination will achieve the best result.
Editing can be just as gratifying as being on a shoot, but it also can be frustrating as heck. There are a lot of different ways to edit a photo, and sometimes I find myself completely starting over after making thirty or forty changes to a single image. There are just so many little things that you can do to a raw photo that in order to get the right combination, you almost have to make the edits in the right order too. Contrast messes with your white balance, white balance will effect your saturation and vibrancy, and if you don’t get your color right, your lights, darks, and shadows won’t look like you want them too. Its all connected.
And in no way am I proclaiming right now to posses either “eye” of composition or of editing. I’m just saying that its out there. I’ve seen people who have it. And that’s why I’m so excited for the future. Because I think I might be able to learn. Sure you might say you either “have it” or you don’t, but I think theres a varying degree of “having it.” All the people that I know who “have it,” weren’t just born with “it.” They didn’t come out of the womb and immediately start taking and editing fantastic photos. They had to develop first. They learned how to use a camera, they they starting experimenting with shots, and then learned how to manipulate in post and so on. They might have learned quicker because of having an innate talent for it all, but still, there was a learning process.
When I look back at the beginning of 2010, I see myself starting a process. Right now I feel like I have “it” more then I did back then, and I believe that I will have more of “it” at the end of 2011 then now. I think taking tons of photos and getting tons of experience editing will teach you how to work with all of the options you are presented with and give you a sense of how to use them all. Hence, the ability to learn “it.”
I think photos are the perfect combination for my personality because it accomplishes a couple different things that I find important; the ability to reflect on your life, the ability to observe how beautiful life really is, the ability to express how you feel about life, and the opportunity to work in a group but at the same time be dependent on only yourself. In film your whole job will be just one element of the production, whether thats behind the camera, directing, editing, acting, whatever, you’re given a role and you’re expected to do only that. You don’t get to be all of them. With photos you do. If you carry around a camera 24/7 you’re giving yourself thousands of opportunities to be in photos as well as take them. And then you can edit and produce them all yourself. You get the interaction with others, the collaboration, but then also the independence. With film there’s no way you can do it all yourself. You are stuck waiting for the camera guy to get you the footage, if you’re the editor, and you’re going to have to be happy with what he shot. Heck, you’re going to have to be happy with the writer who wrote the dang script because you probably didn’t get any input in that part of the process either. Its kinda too bad. Unless you’re fantastically rich and can pay people to do what you want, getting a job in the film industry is really just finding someone who does have the money and being able to do what they want. That can still be fun, but you’re you’re just very constricted to a single role with limited creative ability. Photography clicks with my personality because I hate being dependent on other people for the success of something that has my name on it.
To produce a movie you need your own crew. To produce a picture you need you’re own camera.
So that all being said, I think I want to be a photographer.
Why am I at film school again?