The first and most important thing to have is an imagination, without one you will never see beyond the possible into the realm of the unimaginable. An imagination and a bottle of Pino Noir. An imagination, a bottle of Pino Noir AND a bar of chocolate. An imagination, a bottle of Pino Noir, a bar of chocolate AND a bag of fig newtons are important to any photographer. An empty bottle of Pino Noir is a powerful tool for a photographer as it allows one to see things not just as they are but as they can be, or is it an empty bag of fig newtons? I forget.
Shapes and colours and textures and negative space and… A photographer without an imagination is like a painter without a canvas or a writer without a pen, Nah, strike that, that’s a terrible analogy because those are analogous to the camera. Both the writer and painter need an imagination and the photographer is capturing on film what they capture on paper or canvas. Composition and the rule of thirds along with lighting and ratios can both be taught but the ability to see beyond reasoning is a trait that if not developed at an early age can never be regrown unlike eyebrows singed by a combination of charcoal, lighter fluid and a flame thrower.
How do you know if you have an Imagination you ask… Well, if you have to ask you probably don’t but to be on the safe side. Have you ever just sat and listened to a small child just ramble on about their day and gotten bored, if so, you don’t. The imaginings of a child is a wonderful thing. They see the world so much differently than you or I and not just because they see it from a lower perspective but because they haven’t developed the filters that adults use to see with. Clouds are crocodiles and trees filled with kudzo are giants or dinosaurs to a child.
I say that an imagination is important but so is being grounded. To much if a good thing can be harmful especially when it gets in the way. Take me for instance, I have a fabulous imagination but when I get an idea and I try to interpret that idea on film I am usually disappointed by the results and get frustrated to the point of giving up on it and drowning my troubles in a bottle of wine. Let’s move on shall we.
Some times my imagination gets the better of me and I get overwhelmed by all of the ideas crowding around in my head and when that happens, which is pretty much all the time, I have to get out and just shoot everything I see and try to figure out how to make it all work later. I have a tendency to gravitate towards shapes, colors, negative space, high contrast scenes and textures. I’m not looking for that picture post card that everyone will love but those things that grab my attention out of the corner of my eye. Most of the time my wife doesn’t see what I was going for in a shot but to be honest either do I but there was something that drew my imagination and I just captured it for further study.
I was going somewhere with this but I seemed to have wandered off the path. Ah yes, a photographer with an imagination will be able to see what others don’t or can’t and come up with different ways of capturing a scene or portrait or whatever in ways that will either astound or befuddle the viewer. I say “Befuddle them”.