So this one is not about any technical details or fieldcraft about photography. It is more of how I see photographers today.
A typical graph of the growth of a photographer in their own eyes …
I think knowing where you are as a wildlife photographer is something that is becoming increasingly important and murkier with the advent of social media.
There are the following stages that I identify in a photographer these days
Stage 1: I love clicking images, let me buy a DSLR
Stage 2: I know how to use my camera, let me go on a safari or two.
Stage 3: Not the best lens :(, let me rent one or better still buy one.
Stage 4: I know what mistakes I make and how to correct them.
Stage 5: I click well, Lets get active on social media.
Step 6: ………..
Step 7: ………..
This Step 5 is a double edged sword. Social Media is a great tool to spread awareness about your work. At the same time I have seen way too many potentially good photographers getting wasted after this step. The way it seems to work negatively is as follows.
Once you start posting on social media, you are bound to draw reactions, mostly in the form of likes and comments. The need to get more likes is where it all starts. It is a well known devil that works for the hosting sites. Why else would there be paid features to make people draw more likes.
Anyways, my issue with the above is not the fact that it makes your photograph reach more people, my issue with the above is that, easy adulation leads to stagnation as a photographer. How many of us really go out looking for moments and light? They are much more difficult to achieve than the good portrait or that perfect freeze in case of birds.
With the advent of new cameras and the increasing spending capacity, coming up with images like the following two is fairly easy as long as you have the basics right and though I don’t say they are bad images, they certainly should not be your ultimate aim. I have seen too many photographers drool over that sharp in-flight image or that sharp mouth open image of a bird etc. etc. etc. Deep within, we all know these are images that demand basic skills. Yes, you would need to know about using AF well, true it is important but what beyond that?
Your aim should be to use Step 5 as a stepping stone only to go beyond…don’t let it be a whirlpool which is difficult to get out of.
Step 6: Lets now start to use Light and search for moments. Lets create some images…lets give our own perspective to things. Plain spray and pray isn’t the best approach to wildlife photography irrespective of how good that 14 FPS bazooka sounds in your mind.
Step 7: Practice, Practice….and this is a whirlpool that you can be in for a while and enjoy and grow at the same time.
Well, this is my view of things. You are entitled to have your own view/aim and I would love to hear your side of it as well.