I enjoy taking photos. According to my son, that would be a significant understatement. At last count, I have close to 60,000 on my laptop, and that doesn’t count the older photos and slides packed away in a closet.
Why so many? I like to make sure I have at least one good photo of the subject I am trying to capture. In the good old days of film, I never knew what I was going to get until the prints came back from the processing lab.
Digital cameras changed all that. You likely have seen people snapping photos, and then checking the back of their cameras or cell phones to see if what they took was what they wanted. Were everyone’s eyes open? Was the photo in focus?
Clearly, photographers can be picky. They also are creative.
I often photograph alone. However, I especially enjoy going on both planned and spontaneous photo outings with others.
While in Florida, I participate in a photo club that periodically holds scheduled photo walks to specific locations with equally selected assignments.
The subject matters often feature particular events. We have shot city Christmas light displays, carved faces in trees, done architectural photography, moon rises, sunsets, landscapes, and birds to name a few.
We sometimes debrief around a meal at an outing’s conclusion. We are asked to share at least one of our images with the group. The photos are then critiqued, which I always find most helpful.
I am always amazed at the shots of the other photographers. It is astounding and informative to see the different perspectives that are presented. I learn a lot and wonder why I didn’t shoot the scene from that angle.
I might have a decent snapshot of a great blue heron preening, while a friend has zoomed in on the finite details of the bird’s feathers. The textures, colors, and intricacies are breathtaking. Others create abstract shots of the ripples in the water, distorting the bird’s reflection like one of those crazy circus mirrors.
Each person adds his or her own thoughts to the photo being analyzed. This approach enriches the photograph’s vibrancy and character. The critique suggestions help enhance the picture and the photographer, not ridicule, embarrass or judge them.
A friend, who is an expert photographer in her retirement, photographs the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean every morning. She shares the results on social media a few hours later to the delight of her many followers.
Having been on the beach nearby, I am amazed at what she has captured compared to what I have chosen. We shoot the same scene from different angles and viewpoints. Her photos are just as valid, yet they vary despite the fact we were simultaneously photographing the same subject at the same time.
These experiences enrich my understanding of perspective, a most essential ingredient in photography, creative arts and in life itself. We view the same scene, but based on our life experiences, beliefs, biases, goals, and focus, we can come away with differing viewpoints.
One photographer’s technique isn’t necessarily better than another’s. They are just different.
I learn from life’s global variables. It fosters respect and admiration for one another and the creative gifts shared, especially when divergent viewpoints are appropriately expressed.
Perspective’s diversity seasons our varied menus and transcends any photographic circles. Wouldn’t the world be a more peaceful, enjoyable, hospitable place if we emulated photography’s objectivity in our daily human interactions?
How we answer that question can alter for good or for ill the perspective of all those we encounter.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2019
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