John's Real Tips for Beginning Photographers

by John A. Lind
All the text, stories and photographs on this web pages is Copyright © 2000-2001 John A. Lind.
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1.  The Science

Photography is light and nothing more than light.  That's all that strikes the film emlusion: light reflected, refracted, diffracted, transmitted and/or radiated by the subject.  Study light, it's nature, its quality, how it reacts with optics and film to create an image (cause and effect), and you study the science of photography.

2.  The Art

A photographer makes photographs instead of takes photographs.  In making a photograph, the photographer is able to articulate what is to be accomplished by the image (its purpose), who it is for (intended viewer[s]), the techniques used and a rationale for those techniques as they contribute to the purpose of the image.  Study technique, the psychology of lines, shapes, location of objects within an image, color, and you study the art of photography.

3.  Photography is Subtractive

Painting and drawing is additive.  The artist starts with a blank surface and adds pencil, ink and/or paint to create the image visualized in the artist's mind.  Photography is just the opposite; it is subtractive. The photographer begins with a reality containing everything in the surrounding venue and subtracts elements that do not contribute to the image and its message.  The image with unnecessary elements subtracted from it is visualized in the photographer's mind.

Why This Advice?

I crossed the Rubicon with the realization of these "first principles."  It completely and forever changed my Weltansicht about photography.  Everything else, such as optics, specific film characteristics, and formal elements of composition, are tools for understanding cause and effect, and techniques to create the desired image.  I did not recommend equipment brand, nor even any type!  That's not important.  What is supremely important is the skill of the photographer.  Does it make any difference what brand or style of typewriter Steinbeck used to write his novels, or the species of bird that produced the quill Beethoven used to pen his music?  Maybe one was more convenient, or had capabilities that suited the writer better than another, but at most that's all.  So too with photography!

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