“I don’t think, I feel.” That’s what Keith Richards said about playing guitar onstage in Shine a Light, the Martin Scorsese film about the Rolling Stones’ performance at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. A "must-see" movie, in my book!
I like that philosophy and have thought about photography the same way for years. I feel that a photographer must know exactly what all the buttons, knobs, dials, and settings do on a camera so that when he or she sees a shot, the process becomes more about feeling than thinking about the technical side of photography (this must become second nature).
In this blog post, I’ll share a few of my favorite philosophies about feelings and photography that I’ve gathered over the years. So sit back and don’t think about RAW versus JPEG, white balance, ISO settings, etc. Instead, think about the feeling of a photograph.
The camera looks both ways
When it comes to photographing people, the most important photo tip I can share with you is this: “The camera looks both ways — in picturing the subject, we’re also picturing a part of ourselves.” “Every picture is a self-portrait” is another way of conveying that point. Let me explain:
When you’re looking through your camera’s viewfinder, viewing and framing a subject, if you realize that the feeling, emotion, attitude, and energy you project will be reflected in your subject’s face—and eyes—you’ll get a higher percentage of pictures that you like. That’s because, by your actions, you’re subconsciously directing the subject to mirror the way you feel.
I don’t have to tell you how I was feeling at the moment when I snapped the photo of the Buddhist monk that opens this post. Well, even though I don’t have to tell you, it was a feeling a great respect.
Make pictures, don’t just take pictures
Rather than simply taking pictures—pointing you camera, composing the scene, setting the exposure, and focusing—take your time and make pictures.
Making pictures is not only fun, it’s part of the creative photography process. When you take control, you become the director of the shoot, just as a movie director takes control of the scenes he or she shoots.