I have taken pictures since I was eight when I received a Kodak Instamatic camera as a special birthday present. Of course Dad made sure that I thoroughly read the instructions before I took it out of the box, but fortunately they were straight-forward and easy to understand: place the film cartridge in the back; hold the camera up to my eye; look through the viewfinder; click.
Of course there were a few awkward images of cut-off heads or feet, or distracting blur, or improper focal length for the desired shot, but for the most part, I was pleased with the images.
This was my definition of photography: so easy even an 8-year-old can do it.
However I soon discovered that true photography is like any other artistic endeavor: learning the basics is not the same as honing the basics. And the basics are just a starting-point for the knowledge needed to transform an ordinary snapshot into a meaningful photograph.
I am an English teacher and can vouch that the same is true for writing. Students learn to spell, write sentences and then construct paragraphs in elementary school. Many then assume that they have acquired all the necessary skills by the time they reach 5th grade; they do not understand the need to take English through high school.
But the basics are only the beginning to good writing. Learning appropriate vocabulary and crafting word images is key to bringing writing to life. Varying sentence structure and length maintains a proper rhythm to the piece. Consideration of point of view and intended audience are necessary to ensure the story you wish to tell is appropriately received. These skills are introduced in high school, but never fully mastered. There is always room for improvement and consistent practice is key.
Living in the digital age where we have instant access to anything we desire: entertainment, research, social life, etc. – it is sometimes easy for me to become frustrated at the necessary time it takes to learn the craft. I focus more on the assessment of the final product than I do on the process of discovery.
What I am learning, however, is that photography (like writing) is not about arriving at the destination; it is about finding joy along the way. Life-long learning, creative exploration and surprising revelations are the reasons why I pursue this artistic endeavor. And if I happen to capture a nice shot every once in a while, then I know I am headed on the right path, and that is cause for celebration.
A photograph is a click away. A good photograph is a hundred clicks away, and a better one, a thousand clicks away. (Kawtham Kumar K)
I focus on this one thing, Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race… (Philippians 3:13-14)