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The more I learn about photography the less I want to know…

What follows is a common thought process with new photographers or at least anal ones like me:
“ I want to be the best photographer though, that must mean that I need to learn every technique that there is. I need to know the physics of light, in order to get really ‘good’ shots. Right? ”



The short answer is this: When you are thinking about what f-stop/shutter speed/etc. you can’t think about how and why you want to take the picture. Thus your mindset is one of problem solving and not that of creative artist.

To illustrate when I first started photography I started with an older automatic exposure scale focus camera. I had no prior knowledge or experience, aside from looking at a lot of artistic photos that I liked, I was a clean slate. I just went out and took pictures.

I really enjoyed the first few rolls of pictures I took and now I wanted to take ‘better’ ones. So armed with my newfound love of photography as art I set out to learn everything that I could teach myself about photography. I did this enthusiastically over the course of the next year. Realizing that my camera was just a cheap ‘toy’ that wasn’t capable of taking ‘Real’ pictures, I changed cameras numerous times over the course of that year. Thinking that if I just got the right combination of lens, cameras, and knowledge, very high quality photos would soon follow. Did my pictures continue to improve along with my photographic knowledge?

The result was that my first rolls are some of my best work.


But how could that be? I knew nothing when I started. I taught myself a lot about photography. I upgraded my camera and optics. I gained picture taking experience and theory. Why then did my new work not far exceed my old?

The reason was the more obsessed I would become with the mechanics of photography the less I could focus (no pun intended) on composition.

You see as far as art and street photography are concerned, you will realize that the picture depends not on what you have in your camera bag, or some arcane wisdom but on your mindset.
Let me repeat that: The picture depends not on what you have in your camera bag, or some arcane wisdom but on your mindset.

Thus, in some ways, I wish I could go back to blissful ignorance of both cameras and concepts and make art.

YOU MAKE THE PICTURE, the camera just records it.

This Node was written with non-professional Art/street photographers in mind. If your next meal depends on you getting ‘The Shot’, then by all means put every ounce of thought in to the technical aspects of the picture being taken. If you’re primary area of photography is Photojournalism or wedding/portrait work, … why are you reading this article?
All ideas and concepts presented in this article are my opinion, of which I reserve the right to be wrong.

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