Photo DOs And DON'Ts

Written by Mihajlo Filipovic |

Maybe this would be of help to newcomers in photography.

Photography is best described as a Language Of Light. We take photos to comment upon our World, or at least a part of it, by giving the viewers an insight into our way of seeing it.  These comments are therefore much more about us, the authors of photos, than about the scene we have framed in our photographed views.

The process of taking a photo (the DO part) goes perhaps as follows:

I see something which appears interesting within everything that surrounds me at some given time and place. It can be the whole, which I’d try to gather in a panorama, or it can be just a part which fits the angle of my lens… or it can be something minuscule, a small detail that triggered my interest. In all cases, there is this wish to collect that visual aspect of the timeplace, and there is this camera with its available technical potential. Almost always there will be more than one choice, but we only take one photo at a time.

I remember the reason for taking that picture. The very first thought activated by what I saw should be remembered, since it will determine the way of picture acquiring. Within this impulsive thought there may also reside the image title that I want to use for that image.

I study the object of my interest, noticing its shapes, its shadows, its texture, the kind of light it appears in…  and whenever possible, I try also to see it from other angles, other POV’s (points-of-view) so to also take some alternative pictures. It will help me choose the approach to this particular theme, and to arrange the camera settings to record what I see in the way I think of it, and as correctly as can be done. A photo has to be well-taken; post-process is mainly for corrections.

Now,  the books dealing with how to take correct photos are so plentiful that there really is no need to describe the actual photo-taking.  What is not so abundant is how to form the way of thinking about it. The technical part of photo-taking is readily available in User Manuals, and one should read those with care and concentration, possibly more than once. Every camera nowadays can do much more than snap off a shot at its Auto setting, and photographers should not dismiss all the other valuable info by thinking “it can do everything by itself, mine is to point and press the trigger”.

So we come to the DON’T part, and it may be of even greater importance. What should not be done?

Well, photos should not be just snapped in the “off-the-hip” manner, thinking “something will remain” or, God forbid, “my camera will do it correctly – it says so in the advertising”!

True, some photos at some moments will be shot in the gunslinger's fashion, but only if there is no other way to react. These moments are pretty rare. So, anticipation and readiness also appear to be an important part of photographer’s thinking. But in absolutely no cases will a photo taken that way be exempt from some post-process corrections.

Some people seem to think, “only out-of-camera photos are genuine, all post-processed images are manipulated and thus falsificates”. Is it really so? Do not forget that your camera has been pre-programmed. What arrives to the memory card has been very much processed in the analog-to-digital route between the sensor data and the final file! In other words, there are no “genuine” pictures on any memory card anywhere. And this programming goes all the way from lens construction, type, coatings, shutter type and speed, aperture setting, to sensitivity setting, etcetera… Thus, what you see and what the camera gets differs a lot.

The long and short of it is, every image needs post-processing corrections, and there is rarely an image that appears optimal straight from the memory card. What’s more, the same goes for analog cameras too, since even the smallest differences in film or print processing inevitably changes the final outcome. And there were, and still are, some ways to influence even the slide films, otherwise known for the minimum of chemical processing these required.