When it comes to expressing your emotions, uniqueness and creative beauty, photography becomes a place that will hold a moment in space for you to reflect on over time. To help the new photographer or the avid photographer deepen her ability to express herself visually, we at niNe. asked a few of our photography friends (some professional, some students, some just starting out with exploring the art) why they love taking photos to express their innermost self.
niNe.: What’s the most appealing aspect of photography?
MF: Documenting life is what’s most appealing about photography. The appeal can be found in making the mundane, everyday things look extraordinary from a unique perspective (or with the right lighting and lens), or the appeal can come from capturing the entire scene of a moment in time. Through photography, you document life by telling a story – one image can tell an entire story — and that’s what keeps me going with photography.
TS: The security of knowing that you have forever captured a moment or place and can revisit it whenever you want.
DL: Photography is a subjective lens that allows me to capture a moment in time, an emotion, a scene for all to see. We all have seen a sunset, a landscape or the smile on the face of a friend — but the viewpoint is always different. Photography, or any kind of visual art, allows the same view to be captured for all to see and interpret. It is still interpreted through our individual windows, backgrounds and experiences, but from the same vantage point.
SS: Photography to me is drawing without a pencil. You create an image that you imagined in your mind by using the things around you. You can either see the world in sharp, precise lines, or see the beauty in the undefined lines of everyday objects to the more complex things in nature.
DL: “We fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:18. Photographs can capture the unseen in the seen, and when they do, beauty blooms for all to see.
niNe.: What’s your favorite way to express yourself via the use of a photo?
TS: I love self -portraits that display who I am or who I want to become. Portraits to me are more than just a headshot: I want someone to look at a picture and say, “That picture is so Tiffany!”
DL: With photography, and even more so with digital photography, the images that you take can be so quickly manipulated. But my favorite way to express myself via the photo is through the raw image. My aim as a photographer is to capture the beauty, emotion, action that my eye and mind see in the moment and not to slide another layer on top of the image. I commonly use a polarizing lens because that is what I typically wear outside to help protect my eyes. So what I capture is what I am seeing.
niNe.: What’s the greatest challenge of photo capture?
SS: The greatest challenge for me is mastering my camera. With just starting out in photography, I have to guide myself. Sometimes it’s hard to know or decide what lighting goes with which setting or the best angle to capture what I’m trying to portray.
MF: Finding just the right angle and lighting is what separates you from the herd. This means you could sit around and wait all day for that right moment, or it could mean you bring along your own lighting sources to control the scene. The goal is to take the photo that no one else would have seen. That’s an incredible but awesome challenge.
TS: Correctly capturing the mood of an event or place is the most challenging aspect of photography. A lot of times, I have to achieve this in post-production.
DL: Skyscapes are interesting because while everything in life changes, the sky changes most dramatically on a day- to- day, moment-to-moment basis (other than people). Every day the sun sets and rises but no two days are exactly the same. Sometimes the most difficult image for me to capture is that split second of emotion or an interaction between people. Neither my hand nor my camera shutter is quite fast enough to capture it. There is an instant of ultimate beauty that my mind can capture and the lens lags slightly behind, but I think in time and repetition the gap is narrowing. I prefer candid shots to posed shots of people.
DL: I always find it interesting that when people are in the valley they look to the mountains and say, “Such a pretty view, I want to get to the mountain and see.” So they climb the mountain and they look down and say, “It sure is a pretty view from here.” When you look at these two statements together, you realize that they are standing in those pretty places. This is what I want you to see in the pictures that I take, that we live in a pretty place and not just pretty but a beautiful place populated with beautiful people and things.
niNe.: Why still photography over the movement of film?
MF: There’s something about photography that promotes a viewer’s imagination. The right photo will evoke someone’s curiosity and imagination. What happened just before this photograph? What’s going to happen next? Where is this taken?
DL: Photography allows you to slow down and see. We often perceive our world more like a film. We speed right by things that are always there screaming and shouting for our attention. We rush from one place to another. Photography allows us to see those moments and to experience what we often miss.
TS: Photography allows you to remember what took place – to use your imagination to remember the rest of the details. Sometimes things are better in your memory than what they actually sounded or looked like at the time. Seeing a video of an event may distort your initial opinion.
SS: Photography is capturing the most important moments, from the exposition to the resolution. Sure, film captures every second, but photos allow you to dive into that moment with the details of the picture.
MF: Finding inspiration as an artist — no matter how you create that art — is the best way to grow as an artist.
niNe.: What are your thoughts about academic rules or guidelines when taking a photo?
MF: It’s funny, in all my education with photography, there’s rarely a rule or guideline that I specifically abide by. Nor do I really feel many are imposed upon any photographers. Sure, there’s the rule of thirds, which when used right can be very helpful. I’m no psychologist, but there is a science behind where our eyes are drawn to subconsciously.
TS: My favorite rule to break is that of focusing. Sometimes blurry objects in the foreground make the picture more interesting. I do, however, feel like the rule of thirds is a good one. Having your subject in the middle of your photograph often times looks awkward!
SS: My number one rule I follow is “Go for it.” If you’re just starting, like me, you won’t know what you’re good at till you try, so try it all!
niNe.: What advice would you have for someone who is just starting out with photography?
DL: Pay attention to the world around you. Notice the way that individual pieces interact with each other; it typically does not happen in lines but rather forms meeting. Slow the pace at which you move, drink in the world around you. Look for vistas and for interesting backgrounds. Pay attention to water (and glass) – as it will reflect images. Use the impact of color as you frame your lens, simple pops of color against white or the drama of a shadow. Visually study people’s faces. Notice the way a curve looks against a hard line. Take lots of pictures at different perspectives; see the world from up high and down low as well as eye level. The sun at your back will make for skies that appear bluer. Study images up close. There is beauty in one flower and there is beauty in a carpet of flowers. Photograph things that you like and that you want to share. Let your personality show through and be revealed.
TS: Just keep practicing! Go out in your yard or go on an adventure and drive somewhere new so you can just take pictures! You will learn from your mistakes, so don’t be afraid to make them.
MF: The online community (especially on Flickr.com) is amazing. It’s given me so much inspiration and many challenges in the last few years, and I love posting a photo to my account and seeing the kinds of responses I receive from my followers as well as random strangers. Most users on Flickr allow other users to view their EXIF data – which in normal language means you can view the camera’s settings when the shot was taken (what kind of camera was used, what kind of lens was used, what the ISO setting was, the F-Stop, Shutter Speed, etc.) This information can lead you down a path towards using your own camera in different and maybe even better ways than you had been before.
niNe.: What’s the greatest reward?
TS: The compliments received from people who love my pictures!
MF: Seeing your progress in your own photography. With drive and motivation to be a better photographer, you’ll analyze your work. It will make you become stronger in the art. A true artist always wants to do better next time. No one is ever great. Those whom we consider great would probably never describe themselves as such. Seeing a step forward in your own work and learning from your mistakes — those are the best rewards.
DL: The greatest reward in photography is capturing beauty and then sharing it. Beauty exists all around us and is in everyone! There is beauty in the moments of our lives and the world in which we live. We see many negative aspects too, and our society too often focuses on them – let me capture the beauty and show it to you. You are part of that beauty also; let me show you through my eyes.
DL: God made all things bright and beautiful, and I believe that even in the darkest areas beauty is waiting to be discovered and revealed.
DL: David Loy is a career architect who went to a school that not only spent a lot of time teaching him how to think in pictures but also made him sensitive to lines, shapes and shadows.
SS: Shanel Smith is a newbee to the photography world. Just starting out, she has a fresh perspective to photo capture.
TS: Tiffany Scott is a photography student who is looking at becoming a professional photographer in the near future.
MF: Michael J. Flanagan is our primary photographer here at niNe. and making his way in this world as a professional freelance photographer.