Over the last few weeks I have been watching quite a few videos on YouTube about photographers and photography. A favorite channel is The Photographic Eye run by Alex Kilbee. His videos are all about learning photography and are top shelf.
In a recent video, Alex teaches against the notion that a photographer has to go somewhere, and particularly go somewhere exotic to find photographic material. He then talks about training the photographer’s eye, which is something that resonates with me.
Long, long ago, Wife and I were looking over some photographs that I made. She remarked to me “You see the world differently.” I admit that I was a little flattered at first. But, on further reflection, there was some truth in what she said.
I have referred to the book before, but Robert Foothorap’s book, 35mm Photography, was a favorite book — is a favorite book. It was written in a light, approachable tone and had plenty of his photographs. It is now old and out of print (sadly), but I consider it part of my education as a photographer. The other part being a more experienced amateur photographer who taught me a lot about the technical aspects of shooting and film. But, I digress.
Foothorap and my mentor taught me to look at things. After I bought my Argus-Cosina 35mm SLR, I carried it along quite a lot with a roll of Plus-X or Tri-X loaded. Although I did not always make the shot, I brought the camera to my eye many times to frame and focus the shot. That taught me to see what the camera saw, a bit of three-dimensional space smashed onto a two-dimensional surface (the film).
I learned that I could do the same without the camera… I was training my eyes to see like a photographer. And that brings the story around to what Wife said — I learned to look at the world a little differently.
Although I have had long periods when I was not actively making photographs, I retained that way of looking at the world around me. I remember any number of times looking at something and thinking, “That’s interesting. It might make a good photograph.” This year I started carrying a camera again, quote often. The Fujifilm X100V is an easy carry and makes good images.
But, that was a story-in-a-story… The outer story is about Kilbee’s admonition to look around and see what there is around you, there are many photographs to make if you take the time and energy to see. (And I paraphrase that, but he said as much.)
And so, I noticed Smurfette skating across the top of my multi-port hub. The Fujifilm X-T5 was handy and so was the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 macro lens. I had a film simulation set and did not bother to change it. I rested my elbows on my desk and made the capture.
Alex Kilbee made a good suggestion. He also suggested an exercise to make 36 images of a subject. In the old days, that would be a 36-exposure roll of 35mm film. It is now just 36 actuations of the shutter of my digital camera. (No, I am not going to shoot film for this exercise.) This sounds like a good exercise to do a few times every week. It will have the side benefit of getting me out of my head and away from my work for an hour.
Thanks Alex and thanks Smurfette! Life is good.