Learn To Produce Good Photographs
The best way is the hardest. Do it over, and over again.
by John Krill
What prompted this article is an article Ken Rockwell wrote on
his website: Your
Camera Does Not Matter. And the fact that we occasionally
get e-mails asking us to look at someone's photos at their website
and giving them some helpful suggestions. Most use digital cameras.
My suggestion is to put away the digital camera and get a simple
film camera. One that has focus, speed and aperture adjustments
but nothing else. An old Nikon F will do nicely. Use only the
camera's normal lens. No fancy telephotos or wide-angle lenses.
If you never learn to use a normal lens you will never know when
other lenses are required. I have only one use for the telephoto
lens, a 180mm, and that is at Laguna Seca. Most of my work is
with a 35mm (This is now my normal lens.) and 28mm wide-angle
lenses but that was after I learned how to see with a 50mm
normal lens, and not to just point-and-click.
Why a film camera and one without automatic exposure and focus?
Again improves your discipline but also forces you to see. See
what? Light and dark. Shadow details. It always amazes me how
few so-called photographers know anything about light and shadow
or what I'm even talking about. Get a book, or search the Internet,
that explains the Zone System. This should be your first priority.
Then take 1000 pictures - one roll of 24 exposure Tri-X film
per day. That's 42 rolls of film. Or 42 days. Doesn't appear to
be that big of a deal. It's all in your approach.
Each day set yourself a goal or project. At the end of the day,
after you have processed the film and made contact sheets, you
can evaluate how successful you have been in attaining the goal
that day. Select one or more photos that you think best show the
goal and make 5X7s. Also keep a dairy of each roll/day.
Get a 3-ring binder and save each day's contact sheet. Include
the goal and your evaluation of that day's work - the good and
bad. At the end of the 42 day class you just may learn something,
then maybe not.
Remember that 1000 exposures or pictures is just a suggestion.
You could just as easily continue the one roll per day until you
feel you are producing photographs and not pictures. But make
it only one roll per day. This will improve your discipline. Knowing
you have only 24 exposures will force you to make decisions on
what is important and what is fluff.
That's it. Will anyone try it? Not likely. To much work. No quick
Now whenever someone wants my opinion of their work I will just
have them read this article. How's that for quick results?