Photography can be a funny thing. You sometimes hear people – and camera companies – minimize the difficulty of photography. After all, all you do is press a button and bam, you’ve got the shot. Much easier than, say, drawing or painting, right?
Well, no, or at least, the case is not as clear cut as it may appear. The illustrator starts with a blank sheet of paper and has full control over what goes on it. The photographer, in contrast, has much less control. When you put a camera to your eye to make a picture, you’ve got dozens of decisions to make. How should you arrange the elements of the picture? Where do you focus? What goes into the frame? What gets left out of the frame? Then there’s lighting. Color. Perspective. And then there are the technical factors: what shutter speed? What aperture? And if things are moving, you’ve got to worry about shooting at the right fraction of a second. With all the factors that go into a good photo, it’s a wonder that we aren’t paralyzed before snapping a shot.
A skilled illustrator can usually draw a picture pretty close to what she originally envisioned, and if whim and imagination carry her vision someplace else during the process, she can account for that. However, even a world-class photographer will encounter difficulty capturing her initial vision in a RAW file. Sometimes things just don’t work out and you have no clue why. It happened to me just last evening. Last night, I shot off a couple dozen test shots, tweaked exposure, shifted angles, moved my lights around. I switched from a wide angle to a telephoto to a zoom lens racked to somewhere in between the two primes. It wasn’t working. I powered lights on and off, went from a big softbox to a small one to no softbox, put CTO gels on, took them off, and finally, sat down, a quizzical expression on my face, studying the image playback on the camera’s LCD, while all this time Lacia scowled back at me as if to say, “Bitch, you ain’t taking my picture.” It happens. There’s a lot that goes into a photograph.
Sometimes, though, things work out pretty well. Maybe not exactly as you had first planned, but that’s the thing about photography. When things don’t work, you’ve got to be able to reverse course and come up with another idea, sometimes in an instant. But when things do go well, you think, “Man, this is pretty cool stuff.”