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Thread: Are you a good photographer?

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    Are you a good photographer?

    My philosophy, after thirty years as a professional...
    A good photographer has a story to tell and goes out looking for the photo opportunity.
    An ordinary photographer has a photo and tries to tell a story.
    The lesson for both is to make it work but a good photographer will always have an advantage.
    When you think about it, how do you rate?
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Red, I moved your thread to the F-stop forum for general photography but non-specific topics.

    Now, what about myself? Well, not a good photographer by the standards above. Some strengths (mostly forgotten) and weakness (mostly forgotten to correct)
    and... well... that's about it
    Last edited by ameerat42; 12-07-2014 at 4:51pm.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Ausphotography Addict geoffsta's Avatar
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    In the eyes of friends and family, I'm a Nobel prize winner.... Then I look on here and I feel like a "Happy Snapper"....
    I love it as a hobby, and I want to keep it that way. What others think is irrelevant...
    Geoff
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    depends on what you define good as. A radiographer can be great at taking x-rays, but does not mean they are trying to tell a story or find a photo opportunity.

    A newsworthy photo might come from an iPhone, it may not be a good photo (technically) but if the person was in the right place at the right time, the photo could be deemed good, simply cause it captured the news. Thus it is better than the 'good photographers' photo, due to timing.

    I think a good photographer and a good photo are two different things. One can be a good photographer and take a mediocre photo, and someone else can be an ordinary photographer and take an amazing photo.

    Good photography is not the exclusive domain of good photographers.

    As for how I rate? Well I am ok, but not looking to make this my profession either.
    Last edited by ricktas; 12-07-2014 at 7:00pm.
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    In Training MarkChap's Avatar
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    Well to me, a Photographer with a story to tell is a photojouralist
    That doesn't necessarily make them a good photographer.
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    And that's exactly why this thread was in "New to Photography"
    You can't teach old dogs new tricks. Every good photographer is a photojournalist.
    It would be nice to hear from the newbies.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Of course you can teach old dogs new tricks. Any person who does not want to learn something new every day of their lives, is just lazy.

    We moved it so that ALL members could feel worthy of contributing their opinions, not just those new to photography, who may not have any idea what is involved in being a reasonably good photographer, let alone a professional one. We thought you would get a wider range of response to this discussion in f-stop.
    Last edited by ricktas; 12-07-2014 at 7:27pm.

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    Ausphotography Regular Hawthy's Avatar
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    I do not consider myself to be a good photographer, but I am a much better photographer than I was six months ago. I hope to be better still in six months time. A good photographer, in my opinion, is someone who has put in the work to learn the technical rules and then has the chutzpah to break them really effectively.

    As for telling a story? Maybe, but I think that narrative is mainly the writers' domain. Excluding photojournalism, compelling images do not necessarily need to tell stories.

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    I must be new to photography RG, because I totally agree with you. I have always thought of photography as a means of communication, but it is only in recent years that I have come to see the potential for story telling. That has taken quite some time because it can be quite difficult to present more than single photos that just get some comments like "great photo". I have always liked places where you can present a series of photos that do tell a story, even better somewhere where you can present photos, words, videos or whatever in combination - that can really paint a complex picture. But perhaps what I like is a little more than simple photography, perhaps what I like has gone past a simple way to absorb time. I do hope so.

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    Ausphotography Regular bcys1961's Avatar
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    I don't think you need to tell a story , just achieve your "vision" or meet "The brief" . That will be different for everyone. The competitions provide a me brief to fulfil . Then I think about it for a while , generate some sort of vision that I want to create and set about trying to achieve it . Am I good ? Well I'm intermediate level and I have won a few of the comps . I'd say better than some , not as good as many wth still a lot to learn.
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    Ausphotography Regular bobt's Avatar
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    After my most recent efforts with an excellent camera trying to shoot at night, I think I have been able to establish quite convincingly that I am not a good photographer!

    If I were a good one, I would have produced far better photographs in the circumstances. However, as I quite often produce pretty good images, I would say that I am a reasonably competent photographer in certain photographic situations.

    As far as the ability to produce a compelling story, or to recognise the emotional impact of a situation, I would rate myself much higher - but that isn't necessarily the skill of a photographer - it is a skill in its own right. If you can combine those two skills, then it can make for a powerful result.

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    Thanks Steve, every creator has a story. Why, how, where, when? In reality the story is the purpose and I'm yet to see any good photographer step out for a shoot without one.
    Bobt, like Steve, it takes time to realise your story telling skills but when you do your photographic skills will transform for the better.
    Like a video editor, you need to understand the story before you cut the film. A good photographer needs the same skills be it portraits, landscapes or motor sports.
    After all, a photograph should be worth a thousand words.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Often photographs without words don't tell the full story. Often they do. You don't have to be a good photog to capture a vision. You can be a technically good photo and have no vision for a story.
    Do all photographs need the words? Do all photographs need to tell a story?
    I can take a reasonable photograph, though if telling a story is the point, I probably loose.

    So what's the story in this photograph? There is one for me, other than a photograph of a bird. You wouldn't know the full story without words though.

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    Excellent example, Mark, and a great photograph. In its current context it probably means little to many who see it. Just a good picture.
    Add a caption. "Ready to strike" or "Beware of the predator" and you capture an audience of imagination. A technique often used with serious competitions.
    Add a paragraph as would, i.e. National Geographic, and your story will be enjoyed by millions.
    My point is, you can be a photographer but not really a good photographer until you tell that story.

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    Loves The Wildlife. Mary Anne's Avatar
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    Well that puts me at the bottom of the class as I am not a good photographer I am more the storyteller.
    I try my best and isn't that what its all about..
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    Not at all Mary Anne. Soon as you align your story telling skills with your photographic skills (visualise your photo) the whole concept will change.
    I remember doing a poster photo shoot for Virgin in the UK. An aircraft taking off with friendly faces waving goodbye.
    One of their larger travel agents added sound effects (simply a plane taking off) from a recorder behind the poster and its attraction was ten fold.
    I always wondered what the reaction would have been if the sound was a bomb going off.
    Almost like a logo of Big W stamped with the word Cha Ching. Unforgettable, but you know the story.
    Last edited by Redgum; 12-07-2014 at 11:15pm.

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    Ausphotography Regular bcys1961's Avatar
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    Not sure I understand where you are coming from Redgum. Let's say you take a stunning picture of a flower. A stunning flower , and the photo is perfect in every way with lighting, exposure , DOF ...... . Maybe people regard you as one of the world's best flower photographers ! . But it's just a flower , so where's the story ? Does that mean you are not a good photographer ?

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    Member wayn0i's Avatar
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    When you think about it every photo tells a story Red. Some perhaps tell a short story, like bcys1961 example above may only tell the story of a beautiful flower in the sun, others with more information obviously tell a longer story. Is it good photos tell an emotive story? Personally I think its even more than that, Ive seen hundreds of crime scene photos which have conveyed all sorts of stories, Ive never considered them great photos. So I guess I'm not entirely convinced the story is the be all and end all
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  19. #19
    Focus Pocus
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    Great question Redgum, one that I have been pondering in different ways lately.

    For me there are two primary aspects to this question. The first is:

    Am I a good (enough) photographer? The "enough" is implied but is at the core of that question and is the driver of some people's photographic journey. Entering competitions or showing photos to family and friends for praise are symptoms of that drive, the quest to be recognised, the need to be validated. I can see this behaviour in others because I can see aspects of it in myself. Armed with that knowledge I can start to lose that need, to step back from my ego and grow into what I would call a "good photographer".

    This leads to the second aspect of that question and, to answer it, I must ask another question:

    What is a good photograph?

    There are many facets that could be explored in that question and each of us will have our own answer. Some may not have formulated an explicit answer - it's a good exercise to do.

    I believe a good photograph is one that elicits a response in the viewer.
    I also believe the "best" photographs have only the essential elements they need, nothing added and nothing removed. In other words they simply have the essence of what the photographer took, or created, in that moment.

    Thus my definition of a good photographer is one who has the ability to connect the viewer with the essence of the moment.

    Back to the question: am I a good photographer?
    When I am totally present, when I lose myself in the moment and disconnect my ego, then that is when good photographs are created. And I am not "taking" those photographs, they are just happening.
    So the answer would be yes, but only when "I" get out of the way. That is when I become blissful.
    Mike

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    everyone is talking about good photos and the interwoven story they tell. But no one has talked about the audience (except blissful - thanks Mike). A good photo or good film can be perfection but if the audience is not interested then that is lost. No matter how good it is or how good a story you think you are telling, someone will not care.

    They will look at the photo and be as disinterested as they can be, no matter how good your photo is. so does that mean your photo is rubbish. conversely a grand mother seeing a photo of her grand child for the first time, will not care that the photo is not great, to her it will be the best photo in the world.

    There is no such thing as a great photo, only photos that a particular audience might see as great.

    EDITED : to fix typos (damn phone auto-correct)
    Last edited by ricktas; 14-07-2014 at 7:39am.

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