PHOTOGRAPHY CONUNDRUM

I’ve been taking pictures all of my life.  Haven’t we all?  At family gatherings or traveling on vacation, the camera always came along.  There was always an interest, but never a passion.

A few months ago I bought a new Canon 50D digital camera and something happened.  From the first shutter click I was hooked!  Like a famished animal pursues his prey, my appetite for photography was ravenous!  I gathered everything I could find to read.  I sought people who could educate me in every aspect of photography.  I started taking pictures and even though I didn’t know exactly what I was doing or how I was doing it, some of them turned out quite nicely.  So, I started a photography blog in an attempt to gather even more information while displaying some of my own work.

And after six months, I face a conundrum.  I absolutely love photography and I have a new-found passion to take “quality” photographs.  But, where does that passion really lie?

My initial thought was, “I’m not exactly certain where my photography passion will land, but I know I’m not interested in portrait photography.”  It seemed like there would be too much pressure to capture that perfect portrait expression.  So, I began to shoot landscapes and sunsets.  I imagined myself traveling to Paris to photograph the Parisian landscape.  That was what I would eventually do – photograph the world.

Then, I began to notice the beautiful flowers around my office building and simply couldn’t resist taking shots of them.  It was challenging to bring the bloom into focus while separating it from the background with a shallow depth of field.  So, I started thinking about macro photography.

One day I noticed a bee buzzing around one of the flowers I was shooting.  This offered the additional opportunity to capture the insect in perfect focus as well as the flower bloom.  I loved this additional challenge.

So just to summarize, after a few months I found myself shooting flowers, insects, sunsets, and landscapes every day.  And, I was loving every minute of it!

A few weeks later while visiting my grandchildren, I noticed Eliana (my youngest grandchild) watching a children’s program on TV.  Because she was distracted, she didn’t realize I had grabbed my camera and was snapping one shot after another.  When I saw them, I was quite pleased and decided to share them with everyone.  Click here to see them.

I liked them so well, I later spent some time with Emma (Eliana’s older sister and my second youngest granddaughter) staging some honest childlike expressions.  I liked these as well.  Click here to see these shots.

Now I’m thinking, “Maybe there’s something to this portrait photography.”

I have to admit, I really thought I would begin to take pictures and the subjects I loved to photograph would naturally create a passion within me that would be unmistakable.  But in reality, I love shooting landscapes.  I love shooting sunsets.  I love shooting night photography (even though I feel I have much room for improvement in this category).  I love shooting flowers.  I love shooting insects.  And now, I’m wondering if I love shooting portraits.  Hmmm.  I think it’s time for a test.

I actually have 4 grandchildren.  I have Eliana (who is almost 2), and Emma (who is 4).  But, I also have Marissa (who is 15), and Zachary (who is 12). 

Yesterday, I decided to spend a day with Marissa and Zachary with the intention of bringing this all to a conclusion.  This would be the test that would clarify my passion. 

Well, I had a blast!  We started at a small park.  Then stopped by a church, a beautiful Victorian home, the circle of “Old Towne” Orange, and finally ended the session at Corona Del Mar Beach.  We laughed a lot throughout the day!  The kids had fun.  I snapped 885 shots over the course of the day.  Lunch at 5 Guys!!  Ice cream at the “Old Towne” ice cream parlor.  And…well, I think some of the shots turned out pretty good – for my first time!

This shot is straight from the camera with no editing.  Now, I have to determine how to best edit the shots for presentation.  I guess I’m looking at the expression here and liking what I’ve captured.  When it comes to editing, I have so much to learn. 

I’m beginning to wonder if editing is just as important as the photography.  I believe I have a good eye for composition, but since most of my landscapes have little or no editing they sometimes seem dull to me next to someone who is presenting an extremely edited and enhanced landscape.  Where I will wait two months for a naturally blue sky with white puffy clouds, someone else will simply Photoshop them into his shot.

So, I continue to learn.

I know I’ve learned one thing.  I loved this photo shoot!  But, I still have a craving to go out tonight and shoot the sunset, like I did here.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you’ll visit tomorrow.  I’ll be posting some shots of Zach!  What a handsome young guy!

 

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~ by photographyfree4all on August 25, 2010.

35 Responses to “PHOTOGRAPHY CONUNDRUM”

  1. I love this photo. There’s a naturalness to it that I really like. The colors are vivid and beautiful – I love the green with her brown hair and brown eyes. Good effort I’d say!

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  2. I had an SLR camera years ago, but when it was stolen I couldn’t afford to replace it. Then came a number of years with cheap not-so-good cameras which meant that I rarely took pictures. A little over 2 years ago I bought a Fujicolor camera with a fixed zoom lens – and began to “see” the world with entirely different eyes. Last November i bought a Canon 1000D and now I rarely leave the house without the camera. I know exactly what you mean – but portraits is one genre I still have to get into. Maybe one day…

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  3. I really like that portrait. Well done. I haven’t gotten over my anxiety at shooting people yet, so I’m impressed.

    As for photo editing, there is a big difference between post-processing of the sort that is the digital equivalent of what photographers have been doing in dark rooms for years and adding in elements that weren’t there. I’ve learned that I can make my photos better by improving my post processing skills, but I have no interest in drastic computer alterations. It’s art,yes, but not exactly photography in my opinion. If you’re looking for a place to start that will let you do both, however, I highly recommend Photoshop Elements if you don’t already have it. It’s reasonably easy to use and a heck of a lot cheaper than the full version. (Though if you do invest in the full version, get one of your lovely grandchildren to use their student IDs and get a huge discount!)

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  4. Lovely shots of your grandkids!

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  5. Thank you for tyour comment, Car54. I too thought the expressiveness was so natural. that’s what capture my attention, first. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. It can be captivating can’t it, allmycke? Thank you for adding to this post with your comment. I’m glad you stopped by and hope you’ll visit again, soon.

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  7. Thank you for this comment, parvapasser. I apreciate your information and that you were willing to share your thinking about editing. I do have photoshop elements – but, must confess I haven’t spent much time learning to use it. I guess that time might be now. Thanks for stopping by.

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  8. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, whatdidyoudotodaymama. I really think comments add to the content of the post. I’m really quite thrilled when someone offers a comment to further my post. Your kind words are appreciated. I hope you’ll stop by again.

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  9. I looked at all of these photos and they are lovely. I love this blog and thank you for stopping by mine I feel very honored now, I have subscribed and will be back to have a good look around.

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  10. You are so lucky to have grandchildren to photograph. Sunsets are nice. Landscape are lovely. But there is just something special about our loved ones captured for eternity in our heart of hearts by one of our prized photos. Oh and we have the same camera. I like it too. I’m saving my pennies for a good portrait lens but to tell the truth, I don’t know which one. I read reviews and get scared. I don’t think I can hold one still enough or focus well enough to make it worthwhile. Sigh. I will be back.

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  11. Thank you for your comment, Linda. I am very happy with the 50D. I was shooting with the 28-135 mm zoom kends yesterday. Part of the conundrum is determining which lens to but next – a macro, a longer zoom for landscapes, a portrait lens. I guess patience is the key. Thanks for stopping by.

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  12. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I hope everyone feels comfortable leaving a comment, because I think they’re an important part of the post. Thank you for your kind words. I hope you’ll come back soon.

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  13. It’s interesting, how we never end up where we think we’re headed. But, life is so much richer if we can embrace that. ALL of your photography is stunnning–and that’s a beautiful shot of your granddaughter.

    I think you should be a ‘photo-journalist,’ as your commentaries are always a treat to read, as well.

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  14. Thank you for your comment, Heather. I really appreciate your kind words. they always encourage me. I think comments are such an important part of the process of blogging. Your idea about photo-journalism is cause for thought. I hope you’ll continue to stop by.

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  15. your page is the exact reason i started mine recently. love it

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  16. I know what you mean about the guys who present the highly edited landscapes. To me as a photographer i find some of them to be over done, too much contrast and saturation. It just doesn’t suit my taste. But it sells, and in some of the places i have been the tourists love them! Photography can be a funny thing, no matter your style, you will always have people who love it, and people who hate it, but that’s your style and what defines each photographer.

    There’s my words of wisdom for the day 🙂

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  17. Love this blog, it speaks out about what I think most of us now starting out go through. As for the feeling you have for “editing”, all I can say is continue to do what you have begun, read more about it… some of us believe there are two things you can do after a photo is taken, processing and editing, I try to avoid editing as I believe that it sometimes takes away from the original or adds too much, processing is simply using the tools of a program like Lightroom to bring out what is already there and what the photographer had seen in the first place, or even to express what the photographer intends 🙂
    if you have the time, give this blog a read:
    http://badlightgoodlight.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/editing-a-photograph/

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  18. You captured her beautifully.

    I’ve gone through the same questions and process when it comes to photography. I still haven’t found my niche, if there is one to find. I do know that portrait photography is not for me except when it comes to family (especially my granddaughters!).

    Just keep shooting and experimenting and (most of all!) having fun. 🙂

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  19. Thank you for commenting, Robin. And, thank you for your kind words. I know I had fun with this shoot, but it may be because they are my grandchildren. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.

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  20. Thanks for this information, Michael. This is very helpful. Thank you for commenting on this post and others. I really think the comments are such an important part of the post. It’s as if the comments complete the thoughts shared in the post. I hope you’ll continue to stop by.

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  21. Thanks for your comment, Alex. Every comment I receive adds to what I have already written. I hope you continue to stop by and leave a comment when you do.

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  22. Thanks for stopping by, Daniel. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon. Your night shots were amazing.

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  23. Your comments re: “the editing is as important as the photography” are well said. Ken Rockwell recently made the point that an Ansel Adams negative isn’t worth much without Adams himself to create the print. Professional photographers have often done significant post-processing work by cropping, dodging, burning, etc. We’ve (mostly) moved from the darkroom to digital, but the idea is the same. The ultimate goal, I believe, should be to create work that is as close as possible to your own vision.

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  24. Well said, finding. I would agree with your assessment. Thanks for posting this comment It’s a great continuation to the original post. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.

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  25. It’s interesting watching someone in their infancy of this thing we call the ‘photography bug’. I, too, remember being so very excited about photographing the things I love! I still am, but only about some subjects. Even though I shoot portraits, I found out fairly early on that shooting family is MUCH different than shooting clients. You know family. You know what they like and don’t like about themselves. It is actually quite difficult to photograph strangers in a manner that both photographer and subject like. Portrait subjects rarely understand the time it takes to shoot a GOOD portrait. Many also believe that it is soley the photographer’s job to ‘make them look good’. I’ve learned that a poor portrait subject makes for a poor portrait and part of a photographer’s process is to quickly assess the situation and somehow find a way to tap into whatever will get this particular subject to emote on film. Multiply that by several when you do groups and you want to talk stress?? And, any seasoned portrait photographer knows that any chance they get, a client will attempt, knowingly or not, to completely derail a shoot. Oh, the stories I could tell!

    I’m not trying to disuade you. DO keep shooting what you love. Process the images as you’d like to. It’s your camera and they’re your photos. You’ll find out soon enough there is so much more to being a photographer than simply clicking the shutter! 🙂

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  26. […] OR NOT TO COMMENT – THAT IS THE QUESTION… In a follow-up to yesterday’s post, Photography Conundrum, I thought I would summarize and continue down this path that will hopefully […]

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  27. Thank you so much for this comment. The information and insight you shared is so valuable. I tend to agree with you about the stress of photo shoots with people I don’t know – and, I never done it. But, it seems it could be quite stressful. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll continue to process your valued comments. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon!

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  28. I’ll add a different perspective to the good comments above and say this: there’s nothing wrong with being a generalist.

    I think we all get to a point in our amateur photography “careers” where we feel like we have to decide where we want to take our photography. but if you step back and realize that it isn’t your primary means of living and you don’t need to have a defined market niche … why not shoot everything?

    it seems like you enjoy photographing everything you experience, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I follow a few national geographic photographers’ websites and came to realize in fact many of them are great generalists, shooting landscapes, portraits, wildlife, macro, architectural, and documentary styles equally well.

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  29. Thanks for your great comment, firthefirst! I really appreciate everyone’s ideas. I am moving more toward agreeing with what you say. For right now, I don’t think it matters. I’ll just shoot what interests me. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll come by again, soon.

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  30. I feel like you have just written about my relationship with my camera!

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  31. Thanks for your comment, Katherine. I’m glad you stopped by. I know what you mean with your camera. I’m trying to determine which lens I want to buy next. In order to do that, I need to determine exactly what I love to shoot. Close up? Landscape? Portrait? Each require a different lens. Oh well, time will tell. Did you check out my current posts? We’re talking about macro photography. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon!

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  32. portrait photography is a hard thing to jump into, especially if you’re used to shooting nature or landscapes. It’s sort of nerve-racking trying to figure out how to pose people and situate them just right . . . which is why I don’t do that! Try the more photojournalistic side of portrait photography and see how you fancy it. If what you love is observation you’ll probably do great at it. Just pick a subject and give them something to occupy themselves (drawing, painting, playing with bubbles, running in circles, anything!) and then capture what happens. It’s much less obtrusive than the standard studio-type photography and in my opinion makes a better final product. =)

    bridgetmcenaney.wordpress.com

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  33. Yes, I did see your posts about macro and I loved them! I am enjoying your blog and all the comments as well. As a beginner, I am always of the lookout for ideas, comments, and technique & equipment suggestions.

    I understand how you feel about picking a lens. I too am struggling with what lens for what application. I have been thinking about a macro myself because I love to shoot flowers, and I think it would really take my photos to the next level. But, on the other hand I LOVE landscape and wildlife, which is another lens. And I am learning to work with my son so I can get some decent portrait shots of him.

    I bought a used Tamron 28-75mm lens fixed 2.8 aperture lens that I have been shooting with most of the spring and summer. It’s a great multipurpose lens that I have had fun learning with. There are so many choices out there for lenses and subjects that it can be a bit overwhelming. Too bad we don’t have an unlimited budget, it would make things so much easier!

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  34. Thanks for stopping by and contributing to this post, Catherine. I guess patience is the key to purchasing a new lens. I love to shoot a lot of different photos, as well. I’m just doing the best I can with what I have and trying to determine where I go from here. I hope you’ll stop by again because I’ll be constantly updating what I’m doing. Maybe that will help you and others like us to make their choice as well.

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  35. […] I thought I would start this Friday off with another shot of my granddaughter.  Two weeks ago she agreed to spend the day as my model for a photo shoot rehearsal.  This was our first ever photo shoot and I’m not sure who was more nervous, me or her.  You can see another photo from this shoot on one of my previous posts. […]

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