What does finding anything, thinking like a child and having fun have to do with photography? A whole lot. Imagine the latest track toy hyper car turns the corner and you do a double-take to drink in its sleek, sporty design. Or just as the trees clear enough to glimpse that beautiful sunset, you nearly swerve off the road trying to take it all in.
This need to take in the whole of things envelops our perception of daily life. We do not settle for less when people, places or things of beauty cross our line of sight. We scout the area, find front row seating and gaze. Photography is the art of bringing you that viewpoint. Just like anything in life, doing it well is very difficult. But just like all difficult things in life, if you can find your love for it, it is worth the pain.
The question, then, is where is an amateur photographer to go to learn? if one is truly interested, then the answer does not lie in the million and one tips on how to take a pretty photo on the internet. These tips are about as useful as throwing a bucket of paint and a stack of brushes at a novice and shouting, "Make art!"
There are many, many ways to get a beautiful photo. The methods are endless: framing, lighting, perspective, texture, repetition, rule of thirds, height, subject placement and on and on and on. However, these are all useless if you do not start off with a true beginner concepts: Find anything, pretend you are a child and have fun. This will allow the passion inside of you to thrive.
The old saying, "Art is subjective" could not be more true. Everything can mean anything to anyone. This is self-evident in the photography world. Thus, it is up to photographers to capture the next big everything. You do not need the next top-of-the-line Nikon or Canon to take the shot. Your smartphone will do just find.
Just remember: You are capturing it for others to empathize with. Nowhere else is this more true then our modern world, where individuality is promoted, fostered and cherished. Never before has something banal had so much potential to be adored. For example: an idle glance at an aged brick wall, a disgusted glare at gum stuck to a hand rail or an intense stare at a broken drive shaft can mean a million things to one person and a million more to the next. It is simply a photographer's job to see the beauty and wonder in the commonplace.
Recognizing the moment is critical. Here is where a photographer's eye comes into play. There are many ways to gain a photographer's eye; but a good place to start is by pretending you are a child. Children tend to see the world in a very beautiful way. They do not analyze anything, they have no fears or doubts and they imagine things you could never dream of. The nature of a child is to just do; they exist purely in the moment.
This is key to finding your shot. You must exist in the moment and just do. However, acting like a child is easier said than done. By no means should you jump feet first in your neighborhood sand box. Instead, simply enjoy the place and time you are in. Look around with a hopeful gaze and remember the first rule: everything can mean anything to anyone.
Photography works to capture a child's wondrous perspective of the world by reconstructing the nostalgic settings and emotions of an adolescent mind. A good picture evokes a sort of déja vu feeling. This idea is the same with art in general. It all works to spike the interest of the subconscious mind. This is difficult to fully explain. So instead try to understand its results. If you have ever sat down and glanced upward toward ceiling rafters, you are experiencing a child-like mindset.
As well, it is no coincidence that ceiling rafters exhibit many of the same qualities that make up a strong photo. At any one point, rafters are demonstrating framing, perspective, texture, repetition, rule of thirds, subject placement and height. A main rule of photography is to hold a viewers' attention for as long as possible. The best way to do that is to make them wonder, the best way to make them wonder is to bring out their inner child and the best way to bring out their inner child is with fun.
An interesting paradox about fun is that in order to have fun, you have to be fun and in order to be fun, you have to have fun. Being fun is a state of mind. You need to believe it all the way down to the deepest part of your subconscious. At that point, you do not have anything holding you back, not even the fear of being free from fear itself. This is important in photography, because everyone can tell if a photo was taken free from limits verses a hindered one.
For many, mastering fun in photography is difficult and seemingly impossible. After all, how many times have you deleted a photo or given up on a picture altogether because you thought the shot was terrible? Always remember: Bad photos will come just as good ones will. Patience is key. If you lose it, you will not have fun. Then you can no longer think like a child; and if you cannot think like a child, you will not see anything at which to wonder.
All photographers can attest to their passion being their drive. Raw, unadulterated passion is what pushes them onward during winter, during editing, during research and through broken equipment. Professional photographer John Klycinski states that, "People who start by buying ten thousand dollars worth of equipment aren't doing it right. In a month they're all giving up and selling everything for half what they paid, because they don't actually get it. The equipment doesn't make you great, your skill and passion makes you great."
The most important part of photography is not the right angle or the $1,500 DSLR, it is your passion for the art. Photography is an art form just like painting, sculpting, dancing and writing. People who truly develop passion are the ones who think of anything, gain a child's mind and have fun. They are the ones who push on and do great things. You will not get far in photography looking for the rule of thirds, reflections and repetition right off the bat. That is like learning to run before you walk. Instead, start at the beginning and kindle your love. Look for anything, think like a child and have fun.