Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Great Secret

What is the one thing that camera manufacturers don't want you to know? The one photography secret that is so powerful they guard it jealously going to any length to keep it from you. They spend millions of dollars every year in advertising to keep you in the dark. The great secret that should not be so secret.  We the consumer is driven to have the biggest, the best, the "greatest". It is manifest in the camera brand wars that we see on the net, at the club and even in the home between family members.

Great images do not come from a great camera in the same way that great carving does not come from the chisel, great cooking does not come the stove and great writing does not come from the keyboard. Great images come from the eyes, mind and hand of the person that made them.

Better tools can be helpful if they are well known and well understood by the mind using them otherwise the mind-numbing additional plethora of options can simply get in the way of a good photograph.

That vision is more important than the tools is borne out by the selection of timeless images that have come from photographers of the past. They did not have latest sensor X, brand Y and model N-1. They had a box with a simple glass lens in one end and a glass plate covered in emulsion at the other end. The really advanced ones had an adjustable box with a bellows. Ask yourself why these images are still with us today.

So what do you need to create great photographs? Vision. An eye to discover from the people, things and places around you what YOU like to photograph. That's all it is. Simple. In photography creating the image is all about you. Once your image is viewed it is completed by the viewer. They interpret your vision into their own.

Yes there are the classic rules and it does not hurt to learn them - but don't be driven by them (I'm not going to cover them plenty of others have). Break them when your vision says you should or you just feel like it. Gut feel should never be dismissed.

How do you know you have vision or the photographer's eye as I've also heard it called. Simple really, as you move around the space you are in you will notice things. You will see shapes, forms and colours, not as others see them as a whole context but ripped apart into their individual elements. You will start evaluating everything you see to get a feel for an image that might jump out at you. You will start to see light. You will see the colours as they change. You will see the impact the light has on objects as you move around and the light changes.

I didn't believe this when I was first told it, but now I know better because it happens to me and I love it.

The image in this post was taken at Tower Hill Reserve near Warrnambool in South Western Victoria. It is a beautiful place, one that I've visited several times and will always hold my attention.


  1. Nice article. And it's true, it takes time. I still have moments where things "jump out" at me. And still many moments that pass me by. Or even times of doubt about a shot or a chance to take a shot and missed forever more.

    What is heartening is feedback from friends and fellow photographers and photo walkers. I feel I have only taken two or three steps on the long road to call myself a photographer.

    Cheers Paul.

    1. It's a great adventure Scarlet. I feel my journey has just begun.

  2. Your words are almost as good as your eyes.


I'll be pleased to read your constructive comments and respond