Reading over what I wrote in my post on “Looking at Art” it has occurred to me that possibly I’m becoming a snob! At least it may seem that way. I assure you it is not intentional. But all this talk about “art” may suggest that I don’t see any other purpose for photography.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. I think that photography is a wonderful hobby. I should know: through fifty years I have collected stamps, I have built model airplanes, collected firearms, fired my firearms competitively, painted pictures, done stained glass windows and lamps, and, all through these activities, pursued photography as a hobby. I am a “hobby” person!
I can’t say enough about the pleasure to be found in photography. Being a bit of an organization freak I actually have saved, catalogued and filed every negative I ever processed. Starting about 1956 with black and white film, I have amassed about 25,000 images. Then color came along. I never processed my own color but I did add another 20,000 images. And now with digital, well, thank goodness for Lightroom! And most of these images were taken for pleasure, and not to make art. They are pictures of family, school, work, all the things a hobby photographer takes pictures of.
Photography brings satisfaction in so many ways. The very act of taking a picture is a pleasure. It creates a memory of a special time to share with friends and in later years it brings back a flood of memory. Our brains are funny: we can forget an event and then when we see a picture of it suddenly the day comes back to us and again we can see and hear it all.
Pictures can record the progress of a family through the years. Children get to see their parents as they were years before. Parents get to relive the early years of their children. No, I am a fan of photography as hobby!
For me, it is a positive escape. My wife and I travel and she loves to shop. Me, not so much! So while Susan spends four hours in the shops on Ponte Vecchio I wander a few hundred yards in all directions taking photos. I’m happy. She’s happy. And we end up with a record of our trip. Occasionally I find an image that I think I can turn into “art”, whatever that is. This is photography as a hobby. (And Susan buys jewelry. That is spending money as a hobby!)
But, if you take pictures as a hobby and you are not interested in all of this art stuff, you should still try to pick up some basic technique. So often I give my camera to someone to take a picture of my wife and I in some lovely locale and invariably they put our heads in the exact center of the image, and in the process cut off our legs around the knee. For me, this is not important. I am pretty good at salvaging things. But think of all of their own family pictures from their vacations – vacations without feet.
The joy and happiness that comes from family pictures can be increased by a little attention to technique. It is amazing how a few little tips and hints can vastly improve the pictures we take. The images are more satisfying, they better record the event and they impress the friends at home.
I don’t have “Flynn’s 10 Tips to Better Photography”. As I have said elsewhere on this web site, I did not set out to teach photography. I am far from qualified to do that. But the internet is full of instruction on the basics. Every casual hobby photographer should avail themselves of this material, most of it there for free. It is so easy. Don’t cut off feet unless you are composing a head and shoulders shot. Frame your image with trees, buildings, gates, whatever is handy. Take two to make sure you have one picture with eyes open. Don’t center people in the picture. And on and on. Go make a list of the rules and then get out there and practice. Even if it’s only a hobby, you can increase your enjoyment, and ability, with a few hours invested in learning a bit of technique.
And if you are not out to make “art”, don’t worry about it. Enjoy your camera, take lots of pictures, and have fun. And never envy the guy with the big fancy camera. The bigger the camera the heavier they are and he’s the one who has to carry it! And never forget, buying a Nikon does not make you a better photographer. It just makes you a Nikon owner!