Point & Shoot


Traveling through Europe has given me plenty of opportunities to take photos and improve my photography skills in general. While, in the past month I don’t think I have become a much better photographer, taking pictures has taught me a few things:

  1. Sometimes it is better to not take pictures at all. During my trip I would often feel frustration at my inability to capture the full essence of a place or event with my mediocre point and shoot digital camera. Of course getting a more expensive camera would help me capture the scene better. Learning more about photography would also help me take better pictures. But, regardless of equipment or expertise nothing can recreate the experience of being there. Sometimes it is better to stop taking pictures, breath in the air, closely examine the details of what you are looking at, and experience the place you are at like a human being, rather than a digital eye.
  2. Don’t rush. Sometimes it is very nice to take pictures and I try to do so whenever I think it will enhance, or at least not limit, my enjoyment of a place. But when taking a picture, don’t rush. I have seen people in Paris racing around the Eiffel Tower getting as many shots as possible. My opinion is that it is better to take quality pictures than a bunch of craptastic ones, and if the picture doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, have the patience to check your settings, your lighting, your angle and try it again.
  3. Take lots of (quality) pictures and throw the bad ones away. Thanks to digital technology the marginal cost of taking, storing, and retrieving a picture is close to zero. This is a good and a bad thing. Good because it allows people to take many pictures in the pursuit of a great shot. Bad because most people don’t throw the bad pictures away. Chances are you won’t come back and look at those pictures very often over the course of your life, but when you do wouldn’t it be nice to see good quality pictures?
  4. Don’t be embarassed. I don’t know if other people feel this way, but sometimes when I am taking pictures I feel very embarassed, which leads me to rush through the picture-taking process or sometimes not take a potentially great picture at all. This embarrassment comes from several things: a)being associated with a subject (person, place, or thing) that seems stupid, silly, or inappropriate; b) identifying myself as a tourist; c) crouching in heavy pedestrian traffic. This has been a silly inhibition of mine and I a working to get over it. If I am interested in taking a picture of something or in directing a subject to do something stupid or to crouch in the middle of foot-traffic to get a nice angle I should be proud of the creativity, attention, and thought I am giving to my pictures. I shouldn’t be embarassed that I want to take a picture of something.

Although these are things I have learned from taking pictures, I think they make nice lessons for my life as well.

-J

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