20% off all wall art!   Today only!   Offer ends tonight at midnight EST.

Content vs. Technical Quality

Mark VanDyke

Blog #30 of 33




September 17th, 2013 - 10:34 AM

Content vs. Technical Quality

Content is entirely different than quality. A common question from folks is: "What one thing should I buy to improve my photography?" I've seen this very question on two different posts this morning on my timeline. Without meaning any disrespect to the great answers that were given (and without fully knowing the context of the question), my answer would be NOTHING! A new camera, new tripod, new lenses, new filters, new bag, new hiking boots, new anything...these things can certainly increase the "quality" of your photographs and in indirect ways, even influence the content of your photographs. They can better control exposure; can produce sharper and larger files with more detail; can get you to locations at the right time of day more comfortably and safely. But not a single one of them will directly improve the content that YOU choose to put within your frame. Buying new things has to be one of the slowest ways possible to improve your photography in my personal opinion because those items do nothing to change your vision of the natural world. Follow-up questions would abound if I were actually asked this question in the field--"how do I improve my photography?" If I didn't want to dig too deep on that particular day for whatever reason, I could revert to the obvious answers like: consider the rule of thirds to obtain better balance; watch your frame for distracting elements; try earlier and later times for more dramatic lighting; think about the size of your subject in terms of how much power you wish to imbue in the final frame; try backlighting your subjects, or front lighting, or side lighting; have you considered the use of leading lines; ... I could even wax philosophical about how you should choose compositions that translate reality in the most honest and transparent way to earn a viewer's trust. But the real question, in my personal opinion, would have to start with: "What are YOU looking at specifically and how do YOU wish to portray it in this photograph?" What story are YOU trying to tell with this still image? My interpretation of any landscape will undoubtedly be different than yours--that is the beauty of art! I cannot even begin to address the ambiguous question until I understand YOUR vision (or lack thereof). The strongest way to improve your photography is to improve yourself (notice, I did not say fastest way--reference the earlier post article on this timeline regarding experience!). You are the sole provider of the creative vision behind your photography. Your life experiences, your unique expertise, your knowledge of natural landscapes, your ability to read weather and anticipate natural events--these are the facets that will allow you to choose, organize and present interesting content in the frame. Read books--and not just photography books; travel; spend more time outside observing changes at sunrise and sunset; journal; study what you believe to be great photographs and write, yes write, what is so great about them. Then, as you encounter issues translating your own visions in the field to the finished frame, address gear issues as they arise by intelligently spending money to get the gear necessary to fully translate your message. But, always, always start with yourself. If you want to improve your photography, improve yourself first.

Click Here for More Information


Post a Comment

There are no comments on this blog.   Click here to post the first comment.