I love photography. I didn’t know that I did until about 15 months ago – but now I really do know that I do, and all I find myself doing is wanting to learn more.
There is so much to learn – about the nature of photography, the equipment, the subject you’re photographing, the lighting, composition, posing – oh the list is endless – believe me, the list is endless, and it’s a huge amount to learn.
But if you want to learn the very basic rule, the very fundamental nature of the art, then look no further than the name itself – PHOTOGRAPHY. Without wishing to bore you with technicality, the word derives from two Greek words – Photos and graphein. Photos means “light”. Graphein means “to write” or “to draw”. So quite literally, “photography” is to draw or to write with light.
So how does that matter …? Well as a photographer myself I now find that when I have a camera in my hands, I am asking, “how can I draw with the light available?” – “WHAT can I draw?” and “How will I get the best drawing?”
When I first moved from the automatic settings of my camera and used the manual settings, I was immediately met by new-fangled words and ideas – aperture, shutter speed, focal length. And while being initially overwhelmed, I soon managed to muddle through and make sense of all, thanks to my understanding of the word photography.
It’s very simple – how are you going to get the light you see into the camera and onto the sensor using the lens and shutter? Is the light too harsh – must I adjust the size of the aperture – so that my drawing is softer? Do I need to have a fast shutter speed – to have an instantaneous drawing, or will I elect a slower shutter speed, allowing motion to flow over my drawing? DO I want everything to be crystal clear and sharp, or do I want blur and different depths to my light drawing?
And very quickly you start to understand what it is that you are trying to achieve with photography and this contraption called the camera. You are trying to control the light using the tools your camera provides you so as to produce the best drawing you can.
Once I understood that, I understand the very basic premise of photography. Yes I can shoot studio, location, I can shoot still life or fast paced sport – the subject doesn’t matter. It is how I am going to draw the image that I must begin with, and by understanding “photography” I am better able and equipped to put light to sensor and create a drawing.