The magic of creativity should always be in the foreground of your photographic work.
Since the invention and development of the digital camera, photographers have been faced with the ever increasing offer of processes that are controlled by software applications.
Apps, those little bits and pieces that we can use to, apparently, make everything easier for ourselves.
You can set your expensive camera on automatic, and the only thing you have to do is point it objects that interest you, press the button, and check the results.
If you don’t like it, you take it into a software programme where you can post-process the image to get the effects you want.
Is the end result, in this scenario, really what you wanted? Or did you settle for a shot that was nice enough?
Quite a few professional photographers do this — they use automatic settings. At weddings, portraits, for their headshots, product photography and so on, professional photographers use either aperture settings, or they put the camera on full auto, just to get through the day.
Where’s the creativity in that?
How to Get the Creative Magic into Your Photography
There must be a limit to how much of the creative work we want to hand over to a machine. Right?
I love using my camera in manual mode. In other words, I love to control my creative output.
Long ago, the idea of figuring out how a digital camera, plastic black box full of tiny little buttons, actually worked was a mystery for me — it looked really complicated.
One day, I decided I was going to figure out what all the buttons are for, and try and take photos in the same manner as I do with a film camera.
I think I spent about thirty minutes with an instruction manual, and about ten minutes trying shots out. I began to see, and I was enlightened as to how the damn thing actually worked.
One thing that never occurred to me during my first test shots, and the day or two I used to get used to shooting with a digital in manual mode, was that you could put it on automatic.
For about six weeks, I kept looking at the dial on top of the camera to check that I was still on “M”, manual setting. I also noted a position that offered “P”.
I thought it might mean, “Park”. Baffled. I ignored it and carried on practising my triangular thinking, and my ability to adjust settings according to what I was looking at.
The light, the speed of the object, the depth of vision that I wanted to capture were all important to me. I knew from film photography that the triangle of light is the main thought when you are setting the camera.
It also affects everything about how your shot will end up looking.
I always want my shots to end up looking like I want them to look; whether my vision is weird, or strange, or appealing, is another question.
I do know that if I want to make sure that I’m working towards creating photos that are unique, or at least have that look about them that could only possibly come from the way I look at the world, then I must work with manual settings.
I enjoy street photography, still life photography, and portrait, and lots more — in fact, most objects in the world around me present a positive challenge to photograph.
My cats are the most difficult. They have twigged what’s going on when I pick up my camera and look at them.
I think cats believe that when you photograph them, you steal their thunder cat power. So, they run away and hide.
The creative process is more powerful than a software app.
The app can be tweaked and set at a certain colour pre-set, it can be used for super fast processing of batches of photos, and it can churn out images that look much the same as all the other people’s photos who have also purchased that pre-set app.
If you like using apps, and automatic processes to take photos, that’s your prerogative. But my contention is that wanting to produce wonderful photos that make people stop and gawp, jaw hanging, eyes popping at your amazingly creative works, that you rightly should call pieces of creative art, you should then think twice about what happens to all that brain power and creativity when you allow an app to take over the decision making process.
Interestingly, there is a theory about real magic, not the Harry Potter, Hollywood type magic, but the ancient art of creative magic used by people who lived long ago.
They didn’t have machines. They relied on their mind for everything in life. That is why they honed their creative skills of thinking to be able to influence their environment through combinations of thoughts, and practices, that would raise their consciousness to a level where they really did create an effect on an object.
Nobody ever turned base metal into gold, but according to old stories and legend, people could trash a village with their powerful black magic, and the local high priest could revenge the black magic with a more powerful set of thoughts that would turn the black magician into a frog, or something like that.
Today, there are many philosophers and critics of ancient legend who agree that people did practise magic.
They did this because they were faced with a harsh environment, enemies who wouldn’t just go home and leave them alone. They also learned how to do magic that would ensure that any new undertaking would start successfully, and go on so.
It was when people started mucking about with bits of metal, and invented a spanner/wrench, that somebody decided to invent a machine that ploughed a field. Then that led to another machine, and yet another.
All of these machines that surround us today stem from the beginning thought of how to make use of a piece of iron ore, turn it into something useful. Until the day came when somebody invented a circuit board.
The circuit board did come after several people electrocuted a plough horse in a public square, just to prove that electricity is a really powerful magic that they have harnessed — and we must, from now on, pay for the magic.
The rest is history.
As time passed people relied less on the power of their creative mind to understand and influence their environment.
This caused a sort of mental laziness to set in, and people started doing daft things, like watching 8 hours of television each night, and were often late to bed because of it.
With the onset of torpor in the minds of magicians everywhere — all over the world, in fact, the idea that we can use creative powers to do things ourselves developed into a myth.
Cynics everywhere utilized the lethargy that set in, and convinced older magicians to watch more TV, spend their time working longer hours and to rely on timetables, apps, and digital processes to get through the day.
Creative people are being told now, that they should rely on an app to be creative. This is a lie. It is something that black magicians have made up, just to convince photographers and creative people everywhere that they should pay for the magic in a box, and switch to automated creativity — to buy something that is only an illusion.
Earlier, I mentioned that the high priestess of a village would take revenge on the black magician who trashed the local village. She knew well her power, and used it wisely. Nobody could pull the wool over her eyes because her mind was sharp, and focused. She could, however, pull the wool over the black magician’s eyes by turning him into a frog; the real magic is to create the illusion of “frog” so strongly in the mind of the enemy, that they believe that they are now a frog. That’s real magic.
The power to create illusions is the true meaning of ancient magic.
It is also the task of the artist and creative person, to create an illusion and convince the world that when they say you are a frog, you will act and feel like a frog.
When a photographer utilizes light from the sun god, and darkness from the underworld to create illusions that others find fascinating, it is important that her mind is sharp, focused and fully engaged with the object to be worked on.
It’s then that the creative photographer works magic that stems from deep within. She or he, doesn’t allow an automated process, that dulls the mind, to create images that also create dullness and torpor throughout our precious world.
Be unique, follow your spirit.
Sean P. Durham on Medium
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