The new slogan for my photography business is: “Capturing the spirit of the individual and immortalizing the bond between loved ones.”
This slogan is born out of repeated customer comments when they review their proofs. “Wow that is so George,” or “That’s my Molly” or another comment that strikes the familiar refrain of capturing the uniqueness of that individual in an image — of still seeing the multi-dimensional being of the subject shine through even though it is now flat and two dimensional. The images my customers choose to buy and subsequently make part of their world almost always share this quality. And there is no better feeling as a photographer than delivering an image to a client that they proudly display in a place where they can look at it every day.
I can tell you here and now my ability to recognize this “essence” and make an image of it is something I attribute to God given talent — a talent I am immensely thankful for, by the way. I try to cultivate it every time I pick up my camera and I hope that is what makes the difference.
Whenever I get into a conversation with an amateur photographer they want to know about the technical aspects of photography. What f stop do I use, what lighting arrangements, how do I capture the horse in a specific state in their gait. Don’t get me wrong, understanding all these things is critical to making a good image. But, an image can be technically correct and still not be a good image. This is why my advice to any photographer who asks me about how to become a better photographer is to just get out and shoot — and then shoot some more and then shoot some more. The way you develop craft is through practice and repetition and experimentation. Learn the technical rules, but practice your craft.
Remember no matter what talent you may possesses, success doesn’t come free — you still have to work at it. And don’t be afraid to fail. I have boxes upon boxes of negatives that never made it past the proof sheet phase. It’s okay that now you know that doesn’t work — or you’ve found something that works better. That’s what it’s all about.
Over time you will fine tune your way of “seeing” your subject. You’ll learn to recognize the subtle cues that make that animal or person unique and you will start to see that turn up in your photos.