Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What If?

Iconic photographer, Diane Arbus, who some called, "the photographer of freaks," once said: "The thing that's important to know is that you never know. You're always sort of feeling your way."

I couldn't agree more. Perhaps more so because her words have a vaguely Yogi Berra-ish quality to them and I'm a long time Yogi, as well as Yankee, fan

Personally, I've been doing this photography thing for a very long time and although there's much I know that I know, I also know there's much I don't know and that's why I often ask myself, "What if?" You know, like "What if I do this?" or "What if I do that?" or "What if I snap a picture of this or that?"

It seems to me a lot of photographers these days want everything laid out for them. Instead of experimenting and engaging in "what if?" photography, their ideas of new things are the new things they might simply learn from someone else or from the many "how to" tutorials or photos available on the web or in books or on DVDs. In other words, they're simply trying out things or shooting similar pictures to what someone else discovered when they asked those "what if" questions. And if that "new" thing is a technique or a way of doing something, they're happy as clams learning from someone who worked out the bugs and then shared the results along with some "how to" info so the happy clams can be even happier trying out the same thing.

Don't get me wrong, there's much that's right with learning to do so many things that way. It's a big part of the learning process for everyone. It's part of what gives photographers a solid foundation and a sense of what works and what doesn't work and all that's a good thing.

But learning from others aside, I think it's also important to sometimes ask those "what if" questions all on your own, hopefully discovering for yourself what works and what doesn't work. By doing so, perhaps you'll also discover some things you didn't find in the many "how to" tutorials and books and other places that type of information resides. Doing this might mean some of that "what if" stuff you'll shoot will suck. Oh well. That's part of the learning process as well. But it also might mean some of it will be incredible. And if it is, it will be incredibly yours!

Yep. Arbus was right-- there are many times we simply don't know. (D'uh!) Yet one way to know some of the things we don't know -- there are many ways, of course, to do that -- is simply by feeling our way towards those things: learning and discovering and sometimes stumbling onto stuff we had no idea we might find, whether it's a new way of doing things or simply ending up with an incredible photo of something we had no idea might be so incredible.

The gratuitous eye candy at the top is Paola. Shooting Paola included much I did know, that is, I did know some sexy pics would result... and knowing that was a no-brainer.

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