One Simple Way to Improve Your Photos
At the peak of film photography in 1999, Kodak estimated 80 billion photos were taken. According to Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report, an average of 1.8 billion were uploaded every single day during 2014. That totals an incredible 657 billion photos per year! No doubt about it, we’re an image-driven species… but why?
Here’s our best guess and a clue about what makes a photo really special: No one can ever know exactly how someone else experiences the world. Photography is the closest we get to seeing through another’s eyes, and sharing what we see through our own. When multiple photographers shoot the same scene or subject, there’s a good chance their approach and results will be incredibly diverse. How an image is handled in post processing further imprints it with the photographer’s unique vision. Ansel Adams was known to use a darkroom technique called dodging and burning (that is still used in digital darkrooms today). It brought out a greater range of values in the photograph, which Adams felt this was necessary to impart the sense of awe he felt when viewing grandiose scenes.
Technology has come a long way since then and even the most inexperienced photographers can now take, and instantly share stunning photos. This truth was illustrated during a Twilight Photo Tour early last fall, when an elderly woman with movement limitations elected to stay close to the van at a tour stop involving a run of stairs. While waiting for the group to return, she took a series of photos with her iPhone, and although she’d remained within a limited space, managed to capture stunning images including a detail of purple yarrow still in bloom, topped with the first delicate snowflakes of the season. While the rest of the group traipsed passed these gems without looking, she had intently focused on her surroundings and found unique subjects to photograph and share in her own way. This is a great reminder that while we may each see the world in a different light, taking time to develop the art of seeing is one simple way to improve your photos.