Sunday, December 16, 2012

Adventures in Photography: Expand Your Vision

Sometimes you can make a great image just by sitting in your living room. My cat Tigger loves to climb trees. Christmas is a fantastic time of year for him. He spends every spare moment near the top of our tree. My beautiful wife Brenda spends her evenings chasing Tigger out of the tree. Of course, I spend my evenings photographing it all.

For this image I used techniques from a variety of photographic styles. Knowing my cat’s behavior allowed me to be prepared for when Tigger made his nightly appearance as a Christmas ornament. Basic portraiture and lighting techniques that I have acquired from my experience as a wedding photographer helped me to make this impromptu image.

As photographers, we often define ourselves as practitioners of various styles of photography. For example, I consider myself first and foremost a landscape and nature photographer. However, I do not limit myself to nature photography. There are numerous styles and genres to be explored within photography. I love photographing weddings and creating travel images. Keeping an open mind is key to growing as a photographer.

I once met a biologist working toward his doctorate. He had spent two years studying desert foxes. He had become an expert on that animal. For his final project, he had to study an animal that was completely opposite from the desert fox. He chose to study Atlantic puffins. That project forced him out of his comfort zone and broadened his understanding of the natural world. It is easy to draw a parallel from the biologist’s story to that of being a photographer. Instead of photographing only one style, challenge yourself by photographing outside of your comfort zone. What style is most opposite from your forte? Can you learn lessons from the new style that will strengthen your favorite idiom?

The last thing a “landscape photographer” would make an image of is an indoor cat. If I had narrowed my options to only landscape or nature images, I would not have made this image. Is this image an outstanding piece of art? Not necessarily, but it certainly makes me laugh every time I see it. Sometimes we need to remember not to take ourselves too seriously. After all, we photograph because it is fun and we enjoy it.

This month’s tip: Always have your camera ready. Be prepared for that once in a lifetime memory that will arrive and disappear at a moment’s notice. Having a fresh battery, an empty memory card and the correct lens prepared is priceless.

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