Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bubba Shutterbug and Thoughts on Photography

This boy is so cool.

He's fascinated by cameras. It's not unusual to find strange photos he's taken on my iPhone, or his father's wannabe iPhone. He broke my last digital camera's shutter trying to figure out how to use it. He's constantly trying to figure out how to snag my current one.

"Not for Bubba" gets said a lot when that thing is out.

I wouldn't say I collect cameras, but I do have these two old ones. The Brownie Hawkeye I found for three dollars at Goodwill. It was filthy and I'm pretty sure it doesn't work, but even if it did I wouldn't know how. I brought it home and cleaned it up and now it sits in my craft room with all my other relics from another time. It makes me happy.

The boy loves it. He likes to look at the upside down images in the view finder. He likes to press the shutter button. He loves that it has a handle strap. I let him play with it because the odds of him breaking it to the point where it is worse off than it is now is slim.

The Canon AE-1 is another story. I bought that camera when I took photography in college. I'm not going to lie; I kind of wish I had taken photography late enough in life that I would have been required to buy a DSLR instead of a 35mm SLR. Don't get me wrong - I love this awesome old camera. It was manufactured in 1980 and still has all the original manuals that came with it. It's heavy and feels good in your hands. It's not too big, and not too small. I feel like a real photographer when I'm metering and setting my fstops and focus. The way it clicks and whirrs when you press the shutter button makes me happy.

The problem is that I'm an instant gratification kind of girl. I want to be able to see what my photos look like right away. I don't want to have to wait to finish a roll of film, truck it down to the photo developer, wait for them to get around to develop it (why is One-Hour Photo never one hour for me???), go pick them up, schlep them home, scan them so I can post them online...

UGH.

Don't even get me started on how much I hated developing my own film. While there was the initial excitement when I saw my very first images appear in the chemical bath, the novelty quickly wore off. An hour JUST to process my film into negatives? Test strips? Spot toning???

No thank you. Not for me.

This is why I'll never be a "real" photographer. I enjoy knowing that I understand why we use a light meter, and what white balance means, and the concept of how aperture is and how it works in relation to depth of field. I get basic design principles such as the rule of thirds and arranging visual triangles. The problem is, I'm lazy. I really admire photographers who shoot toddlers successfully, because I can tell you that by the time I meter and set my aperture my kid is GONE. Too much work when I can just push one button on my digital point and shoot to catch that flash as he runs by!

I don't think that people who shoot in Auto and don't have the foggiest idea of how manual mode works should be able to call themselves "photographers," especially not professional ones. It drives me nuts to see someone setting up the ever popular "mini sessions," watermark their photos with "XYZ Photography" and then hear them talk about how manual mode is "scary." Knowing how to use a pre-fab set of actions in Photoshop to edit your photos without learning the basics of the program doesn't make you one either. You're just a mom with a camera at that point. Heck, I have a basic knowledge of those things and I'm just a mom with a camera.

Photography is an art, with all the nuance and skill and technical knowledge that goes along with that but is rarely understood or appreciated. Just because I use a kit to paint a cupcake on a canvas doesn't make me a "Professional Artist; Painter." I hope to teach my son this so that he can appreciate those who are professionals and have taken the time to hone their skills in their profession, and so that he never ends up with a false sense of self worth because he has the ability for a PH.D (push here, dummy) when it comes to whatever gadget threatens to kill (or at least hinder) the arts of the past.

The again, I look at that first photo and realize that he's just a pair of Wayfarers and a beard away from being a hipster, so what do I know?

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3 Comments:

Blogger Katy Cameron said...

Oooh, don't get me started on the mum's with cameras setting up in business, one of my big pet peeves! I have a very nice DSLR, but I also have a lot of friends that are pros. I am not a pro, and will not kid myself that I am (although people have asked to buy my stuff, it's not for sale).

I know what I would need to go pro, and I haven't the time nor the money for all the insurance, back up kit etc, etc, but someone buys a bottom of the line camera, sets up in business and then asks stupid questions like 'how do I clone that coke can out of this photo' (she didn't like the response, which was, 'you should have checked before you presed the shutter', can't think why ;o) )

3:36 PM  
Blogger em said...

Oh don't get me started on the photographers!! I know some photos basics...by no means am I professional. I know a girl who asked me about some things (basic things...like what lens do you use and how do you get a blurry background) and then bought exactly what I have (NOT pro quality) and started a business charging people. I want to scream at her..."you didn't even know what depth of field was last week, and now you are a professional?!!" But everybody does it. Or they can run actions and photoshop the hell out of them. UGH.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

You need to start a new category - pictures by Bubba. He looks like a photographer in training.

11:23 AM  

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