By Jim Stamates copyright 2009
There are two parts of photography; the mechanics, how to use the equipment to get the desired results, and the desired results…Jim Stamates
Many relationships exist in photography. The relationship between color or shades of gray, between light and shadow, between focus and out of focus, between the primary and secondary motifs, between the image and the viewer of the image.
There is also the relationship between a photographer and his/her equipment. That relationship should be seamless, automatic. Like driving a car, do you think about it? Not usually, we step on the gas to go, the brakes to slow down or stop, turn the wheel to go left or right. We do it all without consciously thinking. We must strive to work our camera equipment the same way. All the cameras, lenses, strobes, and gadgets are just tools to help us say something. No different than an artist’s brush or a poet’s pen.
(Here’s a tip: Use your camera every day until you can adjust exposure, depth-of-field, shutter speed, change lenses, ISO, memory card, etc. all without thinking or looking at your camera, and then continue to use your camera every day)
But the most important relationship is between the photographer and the subject.
How many photographs have you seen of the same subject that looked similar but were made by different photographers? Usually one stands out among the many. One that moved you, that inspired you, that touched you. Only one out of the many may be memorable. That is what we strive to do. Make images that are memorable and touch the viewer. To do this we must collaborate with the subject.
Many times the artist tries to control the subject, portraying it from the artist’s point-of-view only and not considering the subject and how it might like to be portrayed. This may result in mediocrity because the artist is not using everything available to make the greatest image possible.
Take any great portrait or wedding photographer for an example. They don’t just walk into the studio or show up on the wedding day and start shooting. They develop a rapport with their subject. They get to know their subject personally, intimately and sometimes even spritually. A connection between the artist and the subject is developed. Then, as the shutter clicks, magic happens. The result is an image that transcends the two-dimensional print into a brilliant work of art.
This works in nature, too. It works with landscapes, wildlife, people, architecture, everything we photograph. Get to know your subject intimately. Relax, get into the rhythm of your subject, look at it from other perspectives including the subjects, and then add a touch of your own experiences to give the image your personal style.
Every photographer and artist has experienced that moment when everything works perfectly. It is something we feel but have a hard time explaining in words. It is like becoming one with our subject. We are in sync, in harmony, in the rhythm. You know when it happens; you know you have great images even before you see the results. It’s magical and symbiotic.
This is the most important part of our photography, the relationship between our subject and us.
Our experiences should not control our art, but influence it. Leave pre-conception at home. Allow yourself to see for the first time. Listen to what your subject is telling you. What it wants to tell the world. It’s there. Hear it, feel it, see it, Shoot it!