“Photographer” – What defines this word !!!
– Its not the number of gear one owns, not how many lenses or camera bodies one has.
– its not how technically sound one is about the concepts of photography – nope, its not that at all.
– Its not how many likes one’s got on facebook page or how many likes the person gets on each of his ‘snapshot’ after posting it on a million other pages and pinging each person online to “LIKE” it. We all know those annoying peeps, don’t we !!!
– Its definitely not his Photoshop skills – Never !
The term “Photographer” can be summed up with just one word – “PASSION”
Passion is what drives photography. You either have it or you don’t. There’s no third option to it.
Passion is what made Steve McCurry disguise as a native and sneak into war zone of Afghanistan with rolls of films sewed into his clothes, its this very passion which made him eat drink and sleep among rebels for months together – while they carried guns, he carried CAMERA – a weapon of his choice.
Passion is what drove Robert Capa, the greatest war photographer of all time, to shoot those “Magnificient Eleven” on the D Day at Omaha beach during WWII. He risked his life to pursue his passion – while the German’s shot bullets at him, he shot pictures in return. How else could you describe that madness !
Such examples could go on and on as we are blessed with so many inspirational photographers over the years.
But there’s one thing we got to remind ourselves over and over again – Passion is very very volatile. If you don’t push yourself to pursue it, it wont last for long. Owning a camera is the easiest part of photography and so called passion is on its peak at that very moment, you do actually carry your camera everywhere, click anything and everything. That’s awesome but sad part is the distraction for fame that pitches in. Zest for photography is lost even before you realize. Even before knowing whats beyond automatic mode of your camera, there’s a Facebook photography page with your name, then begins the hunt for likes and on n on. Between all that, ‘Passion’ evaporates.
So how do we keep the Passion alive and running from day one ! How do we not just be a DSLR-Owner and be a better photographer ! How do we keep that juice of creativity flowing !
Answer is simple,
Shoot Shoot and Shoot : Keep shooting without any excuses, over the weekdays and over the weekends. Sacrifice the luxury of sleep – luxury of your lazy weekend and head out and shoot. With passion serving as the adrenaline, its not hard to do. The more you shoot, more familiar you get with your camera settings, more familiar you get with those settings, more confident you get to shoot and confidence reflects in your photographs. Its a cycle which does world of good. Like Zack Arias says ‘Shut-up-and-shoot’.
Experiment : Don’t keep yourself comfy with one genre. If you love landscapes – fantastic, keep shooting more of them but don’t just do ONLY that. Try something new in between. Shoot for instance, streets or fashion or try your hands on timelapse or night photography, star trails, long exposures, macros….. Photography is infinite, its never ending. There’s always something new to do, something new to shoot – Its just YOU who has to dig in deeper and explore the world of infinite opportunities. Just keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You will see great results coming your way. Click here to see one of my crazy experiments.
Challenge yourself : How about shooting an entire month with just a prime lens ! or how about a telephoto ! How about shooting an entire shoot without chimping ! ( Chimping = Habit of checking every photo on the camera display (LCD) immediately after capture) or how about shooting an entire street walk with a theme, like say shooting only close ups or shooting every frame with a common color like red or blue or green. Create your own challenge and chase it. No ones watching you but yourself, be loyal to your idea and follow the challenge. Click here for one of such challenge I put myself through. It works and it works really really well.
Explore : People in UAE always complain about how tiny this country is to explore photography. “There are no locations left to shoot” REALLY !!! The best photography location doesn’t have to be miles away, it could be right at your backyard. All we need to do is OBSERVE. Its been over 3 years since I been shooting and yet I don’t see this TINY country running out of photographic locations. Its because I do roam and see and observe. Most of times I head out with my partner in crime AJ to explore new places. When he asks where we going, I give an answer which without a doubt makes him worried. Most often it would be nameless, I hand over a set of coordinates and say this place looked interesting on google earth 😛 Lets see how it actually looks. There were times we drove 200 kms + to only end up in a military zone. We were sent back with a warning to never show up again 😀 There was an instance when we got lost, coordinates screwed us royally at 3am somewhere in outskirts of RAK. We kept our cool and kept driving without giving a second thought. Google maps continued to show some mountains at a distance with seascape around it. It was a good bet. So continued our blind journey and reached a fishing village and were welcomed with the most beautiful sunrise EVER. Since then this fishing village has been a regular spot for me. The fishermen around are now almost good friends of mine 😛
How could I not mention the Haunted Palace. Late Thursday evening, AJ informed me about this unexplored supposedly HAUNTED palace in his beloved RAK. His plan was to explore it someday, my plan was to explore it that very night. Even before he knew, I was at his doorstep in RAK all set to challenge the spirits 😛 Didn’t exactly know where palace was, but somewhere around 2am we did manage to find the place but the security (who resides in a small place outside the compound of the palace) gave permission to enter the place only after 5am. We did make it then and explored the place.
Bottom line – more you explore, more you find. There is always something left to be shot, keep your eyes wide open. Killer Tip : Use Apple maps, you are guaranteed to be lost and being lost is GOOD at times 😛
Travel : One of the best ways to ignite passion to a whole new level is to travel. Travel opens the mind and gives orgasm to the photographic eye 😛 Explore the world, one place at a time. Have a bucketlist of your fav places and plan your trips to experience them. I have my list and most of my list is filled with places from my own country – India. With love for street and people photography, I just cant think of a better place than my vibrant country, a country filled with so much of contrast. Its insanely beautiful and addictive. First on my list was Varanasi. September 2012 was when I did finally explore this stunningly gorgeous place along with Srinagar, Pahalgam, Leh-Ladakh as add on. It was indeed the most productive photographic experience so far and the whole perception of photography did change with that tour. Idea is simple, to have one BIG photography trip every year. Strike them off , one at a time. ( Though Varanasi is back on my list again, I am not done with it yet and may be ‘will never be’ 🙂 ) “Those who don’t travel have only read one page of the book” – That sums it up.
Get Inspired : There are so many photographers – International and local, who have done and have been doing amazing contribution to photography. Follow them. Read about them. Browse through their photographs. Learn about what makes their shot so special. When I see a inspirational photograph, all I do is stare at it and try decoding it by asking myself just few simple questions. Why is this photograph so good ! what makes it so special ! what was the photographers idea behind the composition ! what are the possible edits he’s done on it ! where did he burn and where did he dodge ! Those simple questions unravels the mystery. It may not be the right answers you convinced yourself with, but without your knowledge those disciplines will apply when you click your next photograph. Try getting in touch with few of your fav photographers if possible. Its a Facebook world, no ones too far away. Find few of them and keep a close eye on how they do what they do. Here are few of those gentlemen who really inspire me from my friends list on Facebook : Gmb Akash ( for his stunning reflection on social issues, he is truly a gifted soul, one of my most admired photographer) Martin Prihoda ( love his blog, he’s amazing with words. One of those photographers who shoot superstars of Indian cinema and on other hand follows his passion to shoot street photography, met him in GPP and he is so damn down to earth) Raymond Gehman ( Nat Geo Photographer – Yalla, no explanation needed 😉 and ofcourse his simplicity as a person )
Doesn’t matter how, just get inspired, motivated and keep that ‘Passion Alive‘. Keep clicking like there’s no tomorrow. Learn something new, do something new and create something unique. That’s the mantra.
Until next time,
Just a thought about Facebook : “I love Facebook”. Facebook is a blessing to all the photographers. It is without a doubt a confidence booster for all the budding photographers and a marketing HQ for the serious amateurs and professionals. Without a doubt Facebook has played a huge role in promoting photography as the most happening hobby of all and led to the birth of hell lot of DSLR owners and some fantastic photographers aswell. Problem is not facebook, problem is those who get distracted by it. When you click pictures for the sake of Facebook ‘cool factor’, you are just harming yourself. Click for yourself, feel good about it, don’t let the ‘likes’ determine the value of your photograph. I get so many msgs on Facebook with just one line in it “like my photo at the following link *&^%$%^&*(*&^%$$%^&*” Spot on. No hi, no hello, no greetings what-so-ever, just a order “LIKE MY PIC”. If its for competition purpose where likes may make you win something, its supercool to market, thats what friends are for, But just for the sake of nothing when you pop up for LIKES, its insane. The obsession for “Likes” is unbelievable. This ain’t taking you anywhere. I have seen pics of some girls with typical duck face pose get more likes than photographs from Steve McCurry !!! So does it make it a better photograph than Steve’s !!! It’s understood without any explanation. Don’t divert the passion for photography to passion for ‘fb likes’. Conserve your energy for the right stuff , Cheers 🙂 (and I have no idea why smileys on wordpress look so damn overexcited)