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Pen to Paper; Eye to Camera: Tips on How to Start Photographing

I have been very blessed to have had three solo photography exhibitions since I fell headlong into photography 2 1/2 years ago. Happy accidents as I call them, for sure. It has been a whirlwind of hard work, and even harder work. Let me make this clear, I am still a beginner in regard to photography. Every single day I am pushing myself to become a better and more knowledgeable photographer. Given that I did not truly immerse myself into the greatest artistic journey humanity has ever known until I was 52, for me, there is not a moment to waste.

These are a few tips and suggestions I will offer to any of you who are thinking of grabbing a camera and telling stories. The first rule, and its non-negotiable, is HAVE FUN! Photography gives us so much ability to stop time, freeze a moment and record history the way we want to. In this sense we become little creative gods. There is creation in photography, and WE are the creator!

Aside from taking delight in our creativity, I will offer a few more fundamental suggestions on how to begin a journey of painting with light.

  • Pen to Paper - Whenever I am taught, think of, or am privy to information regarding the artistic and/ or technical side of photography, I write it down. It need not be a long missive, only something that will awaken my memory when I revisit it. Don't fail to put pen to paper before you put eye to camera.

  • Use the Camera you Already Have - One can absolutely lose their inspiration and motivation to photograph if they spend too much time on the eternal and dizzying number of camera brands, types of cameras and lenses that are available to photographic artists. Whatever camera you currently have is the best camera to start learning with. Here is something I don't share too often, however, in my first solo photography exhibition, one of the photographs I displayed at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont, Texas, was an image I took in Saigon, Vietnam with a phone camera in 2018. The image came out beautifully in both composition and quality.

  • Pay Attention to Lighting - Be it natural light or artificial light, be aware of how it attaches itself to everything, especially your main subject in your composition. Afterall, at its basic foundation, photography is painting with light. Balancing the effect and intensity the light has in regard to your subject and background will give you photographs a deeper and rich dimension. Photographing without enough light is the surest way to come out with flat, insipid images. Let there be light!

  • Slow Down and Take Your Time - In my 54 years on this journey I have found anything that is rushed usually ends up being a frustrating waste of time. It is never truer than in photography. One of the best ways to avoid this is to breathe deeply and enjoy your surroundings. When I was in Alaska last July, I was climbing up a small mountain in Denali thinking of the incredible photographs that awaited. Once I arrived at my destination and turned around to see the vista that lay before me, I was so moved emotionally that all I could do for the first half hour was sit down, breathe and take in the indescribable beauty that transpired before me. Don't be in a rush. Allow photography to be not only an artistic journey, but also a spiritual one.

These four insights that I have learned from other photographers have served me well in the last 2 1/2 years. It has simplified photography for me and made it more enjoyable and more experiential. If you are interested in photography, today is the perfect day to start, right outside your front door. An entire world of possibility and creativity awaits you.

Grab a camera and tell a story!!!!


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