Photography is about seeing the light, the way the Grand Masters see it and what separates the great legends from the rest of us. Light or the lack there of is what stops us dead in our track and makes us take two steps back to take a lingering look at a photograph hanging on a wall. To me, colors are just a facade – the “extras”. Peel away the colors, if a photograph is truly special, the light that grabs our attention initially should still be there.
I am convinced if the modern day photographer can master the subject of light and use light to convey her message just the way she intends it to, she truly has a special gift. It is that gift I so wish for, it is my only goal in the quest to be a better photographer. So very often, we snap away without spending time to compose the image, to think of the message and why we are there in the first place. We hope by snapping a few dozen shots of the same scene, one will turn out good enough and our effort will not be in vain. That is where we are all mistaken. The most valuable lesson I learned from my photography teacher was a sentence she uttered one day in class: “Timeless photos are composed, and they are often a result of great deal of planning and thinking, in setting up the shots and the placement of light.” Ask any accomplished photographer and they will tell you this cannot be more true.
Re-Learn The Basics of Photography:
The more I do photography, the more I realize I need to go back to re-learn the basics. I told myself that until I can get my head completely wrapped around the subject of light, I have barely begun going on this beautiful journey. That is photography – It is simply a story of light and light is all around. Can you see it?
Ansel Adam (1902-1984) made over 40,000 photographs, his mastery on the photography and his medium are well chronicled in three much sought after books: “The Camera”, and “The Negative” and “The Print”. Ansel Adam developed the zone system and show us how there are shades of black and white. His books teach every student of photography that it is important to have a good grasp of one’s working medium if one wants to create timeless photography.
Another photography legend and my all time favorite is Dorothea Lange. Dorothea Lange is famous for her poignant and haunting photographs from the Great Depression, “The Migrant Madonna” being the most famous of all. Her use of harsh light from the mid day sun in “Migrant Cotton Picker” and “Woman of the High Plains” brought their plights and sufferings to the fore and touched our hearts . Her work often reminds me of what humanity is and what photography should really be about.