Sunday, April 18, 2010

Joy in the Journey

This past month has been one of the most inspiring in my life, photographically speaking. I had the opportunity of running into an old acquaintance on a forum. It was wonderful to learn about her new-found passion in photography and to see her excellent work. I had the privilege of seeing photographers of various skill levels try new things and the excitement that resulted. I had the joy of witnessing an "A-ha" moment from a friend with whom I shared the basics of off-camera flash techniques. I had the honor of writing introductory photography lessons, in Chinese, on facebook, for my brother and his friend, both new to the world of digital SLRs, who live across the Pacific Ocean. I was in the company of some lady photographers until the the topic turned to Boudoir--um, Awkward!! I had the pleasure of reading several books by passionate photographers who were like mentors who came alongside to encourage me to dig deeper into the craft, to move beyond the how-to into the why-to.

One of them was Joe McNally. I have been poring over his books The Moment It Clicks and The Hot Shoe Diaries. These books not only contain beautiful photographs and technical tips, they're also sprinkled with wise words by one of the most respected photographers today.

"You're not going to be in the same room when people look at your pictures. Your picture has to speak for itself."

"Don't pack up your camera until you've left the location."

"Remember the hardest thing about lighting is NOT lighting."

"The only way to keep your heart beating as a photographer is to shoot what you love."

Another mentor goes by the name David duChemin, whom Zach Arias mentioned on Dane Sander's David is a humanitarian photographer who has traveled the world and works with relief organization such as World Vision. His e-book entitled Chasing The Look--10 Ways to Improve the Aesthetics of Your Photographs spoke to me in a special way. Using the visual language metaphor, duChemin challenges the photographer to answer two questions, "What are you trying to say?" and "How does that camera and lens help you say that?" Every decision, be it shutter speed, aperture, ISO, ... will change the look of the photograph. How does the photographer acquire new vocabulary and become fluent at it? I was inspired to continue to improve my craft, and be very deliberate about it. There's so much to learn still. I must continue to experiment, to sharpen the vision.

"Perfection is overrated, and technique without passion is like vision without a voice--it rarely moves the heart."

David ends the book by quoting Joe McNally, "This is a journey without a destination. We keep learning not to 'get there' but for the joy of being wherever we are, camera in hand, chipping away at this hoping to uncover our vision, learn our craft..."

Speaking of joy, I photographed water drops for the first time! You should have seen the big grin on my face. Brings back sweet memories of discovery... such is the joy.


  1. Hi there! I popped over here from a Facebook photo that Kathy was tagged in. Nice shots! Maybe we will run into eachother sometime.

  2. Thanks Niccole! I'm sure our paths will cross someday.


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